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Be Aware of Your Habits

Today's post is written by David Smith, clinic owner of Egoscue San Francisco.

My favorite moment in the client education process is when an unconscious habit suddenly becomes conscious. It’s at this moment the link between that habit, the imbalance in posture, and the pain become abundantly clear.

For example, I had a very inquisitive client come in the other day wondering why his upper body was so rotated in his pictures. As he was asking the question, he was standing all on his right leg with the left leg forward and his trunk rotated completely to the right (towards his right leg). He looked like he was skateboarding.

I smiled and said, “It could be because you always stand on your right leg.”

He started to protest until he suddenly became aware that he was, indeed, standing all on his right leg while his trunk was completely rotated. It was an unconscious but costly habit. Costly because the pain is on the right—the side he’s standing on—which gets overworked due to his body’s unwillingness to load the left hip. He also has left shoulder pain due to the shoulder always being rounded forward as it rotates toward the right side.

When I explained all of this, the light bulb went on in his head, and he has since driven himself crazy (in the best way possible!) of being aware of everything from how he stands to how he sits to how he works.

You should too. Our bodies adapt to the stimulus we give it, so a bad habit of sitting or standing all on one side, sitting with your shoulders rounded, or carrying your purse on one shoulder day after day will ultimately lead to an imbalance. The imbalance could throw you off enough to eventually lead to a disruption in function (as it did with my client with the left shoulder rotated forward) and then pain.

The lesson for today is to be aware of your habits. Start to notice how you stand, sit, eat, drive, carry your purse, play your guitar, etc. You will find you’re doing something repetitively, and if there’s a way to balance that out (Egoscue exercises are one way) or to consciously change it, then do it. Your body will thank you!