The Joy of Range of Motion

by Anna Dale, LMT

Have you ever watched a child in action?  Imagine for a moment a young person of about 3-5 years of age – fresh off the boat and full of spontaneous movement.  Next imagine an elder – someone in their 80’s or 90’s.  There is a broad range of potential movements we can make as human beings.  From the trained athlete to a paraplegic, movement is essential to life.  The blood flows, the lungs expand and contract, our legs (if we are blessed with a functioning pair) move us across landscapes and over to the refrigerator for a snack.  The body is endlessly fascinating and our vehicle for life.  Often our movement vocabulary can grow limited as the years go by.  Many factors contribute to the shift.  We create patterns of tension and guarding after an injury.  We may be self-conscious and so limit the ways we move.  Often we are just too busy and don’t or can’t take the time to support ourselves in the ways that encourage a more full range of motion.  Habit and stress set in and we limit ourselves to a percentage of our potential.

There is joy in movement.  For anyone in chronic pain, this may be hard to believe or remember.  But for people who experience chronic pain, often, movement becomes medicine and a sense of joy is restored.  We are not meant to live sedentary lives.  Pain is often the result of stagnation – when the body or emotions have become blocked in some way.  Most (if not all) of us experience, to some degree, limited range of motion.

Restoring range of motion in the body is a step-by-step process.  We start with kindness.  Meeting the body exactly where it is today.  Awareness of breath, nutrition, and rest all play subtle and powerful roles.  Massage supports this opening and the flow of life through muscles and across joints.  Acupuncture, chiropractic care, or spending time with a life coach or counselor can also be wonderful forms of support.  We need the support of our community to blossom and flourish into our individual potentials.  Tending to the body and its range of motion can be a beautiful place to start or continue on the journey.

When the body opens and we begin to feel the hidden places, joy soon follows…….