How to Recover from an Injury: Hint…Don’t Try it Without a Movement Therapist (Part 2)

This is the second in a 4-part series where I’ll share why, after injury, working with a Movement Therapist is a must. You can read part 1 here.

I’ll share what prompted me to see Jesse, what happens to your nervous system after an injury, and how Movement Therapy helps. I’ll also share how Jesse is helping me unlearn 5 years of constrained (or unnatural) movement.

No, Jesse isn’t paying me to write this. That’s not my style or his. My hope is that my experience will motivate you to recapture the movements that injury has greedily taken.


If you haven’t read part 1 of this series, read that first, then come back.

After years of injury recovery I knew I wasn’t moving with my former fluidity or balance. I just didn’t realize the depth of my brain’s dysfunctional rut until I saw Jesse. Since even minor injuries result in altered movement, I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised to discover how much of my normal mobility I had lost.

Normally, muscles are supposed to react and respond to movement, but when we’re injured, the body cannot get into the right space (because it’s lacking range of motion) for muscles to work properly. The result: we feel tightness followed by pain.

Despite lots of daily stretching, I felt my body getting more and more restricted on the side opposite of my injury, specifically my hip and back. I learned why from Jesse. Note: It’s very common for second injuries to happen on a part of the body diagonal from the first injury.

Jesse said, “Traditional static stretching isn’t great for movement restoration because it doesn’t challenge the nervous system in gravity. Static stretching has its place, but I consider it like salting your food. A little goes a long way.”

Traditional static stretching doesn’t load the body and nervous system naturally. When you lengthen a muscle safely under load while moving, without pain, the nervous system resets.

Lengthening a muscle without load (aka static stretching) doesn’t teach the nervous system that the muscle can stabilize and lengthen appropriately (to its full capacity). Static stretching doesn’t translate into movement,” Jesse said.

Jesse has a way of getting the gears in my head turning. I had always thought stretching was the key to maintaining mobility.

The reality is we have to continuously explore moving in different and dynamic ways to give our nervous system new experiences and maintain our flexibility. When you keep your nervous system guessing, it can’t get lazy and limit your motion.

What does exploring movement mean? We were meant to crawl and climb, something adults rarely do. Life forces us to sit, and we’ve evolved into people with back and core weakness and pain.

During the past 5 years, I’ve spent thousands of hours horizontal on my back in a machine that slowly bends and straightens my leg. That’s just as bad as sitting.

In fact, it doesn’t matter if we stand, sit, or lie down. Too much lack of movement in any posture equals stiffness and pain. I came to Jesse with right hip pain and right side back tightness from too much lying down. Jesse said, “When you sit (or any other static position) and don’t move for eight hours a day, it’s like feeding your body McDonald’s. Instead, think about feeding it movement snacks.”

I feel like a kid again working with Jesse. I’m crawling, learning how to hold onto a bar to prepare for climbing, and challenging my body to move in ways it hasn’t in years. Imagine “therapy” being fun.

My exercises change the way I feel and move, so I look forward to them.

During our second visit, we continued to address my hip and spine immobility.

I learned a 2-minute chair yoga routine that anyone can do anywhere.

Jesse’s teaches movement exercises that serve as tools you and I can use throughout every day for a lifetime–because getting back movement you’ve lost and/or maintaining the movement you have is a lifelong practice.

It doesn’t take long–2 to 3 minutes a few times a day–to take care of yourself. You only have one body, after all.

I also learned several drills to specifically explore movement in my spine and a drill to build grip strength—-the foundation for climbing.

How am I doing now? Pretty incredible, I’d say. I’ve been doing the exercises in all four videos (two videos were in the first blog) at the beginning of and throughout each day. Remember the “leg length discrepancy” I mentioned in part 1? At best is was ¾ of an inch, and at worst it was 1 inch. Now it’s gone! My back is feeling normal again too.

It’s worth noting that following 5 years of dysfunctional movement I noticed marked improvement in just 2 weeks.

Don’t be like most people post-injury and think you’ll just work your way back to normal without therapy; strive for an optimal recovery. Even small injuries cause dysfunctional compensatory movement patterns.

You have an opportunity right now to retrain your brain to move properly before you start “running” again. Capture that opportunity, and work with a Movement Therapist.

How do you find one? If you’re in Austin work with Jesse. If you’re not in Austin, email me at [email protected], and I’ll work to find someone in your area.

Do you have some funky compensatory stuff going on? What do you think of Jesse’s work? As always, I love hearing what you think.

If you’re struggling with post-injury frustration and patience, email me at [email protected] I’ve been where you are and I can help.

Forward>>>Heidi

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