The opposite of “no pain, no gain” culture is not inactivity, any more than the opposite of talking nonsense is not talking. Let’s move, but move like intelligent, self-respecting adults. How do you do that when the truth is, you probably don’t have a perfectly accurate sense of how you stand or move.
If you’re one of those people for whom little aches and pains keep you from moving—or if you’ve plateaued in your exercise regime - these unknowns may be to blame.
Your brain, like the rest of your body, gets good at whatever you use it for. Each of your muscles contains specialized proprioceptor organs that generate information about every movement you make. They help to give you an internal sense of where you are in space independent of your vision.
This information contributes to a kind of mental map that allows your brain to do a little less hard work when it comes to spatial analysis.
So let’s say you are genetically predisposed to right-handedness, and over your lifetime you’ve thrown a ball with that dominant hand several thousand times. Your proprioceptive map for right-handed throwing is like a satellite-guided GPS system: so detailed that following it requires almost no mental processing at all.
Now let’s say you’ve tried a left-handed throw twice. Your map for this action looks more like something you scribbled on a paper napkin.
Throwing left handed would require your somatic nervous system to cross-reference a deluge of information coming from your skin, muscles, tendons, ligaments, inner-ear and visual field. But your brain doesn’t want to do any of that ‘working out’ and would rather just use the side with the better map – the one it already knows.
So your side-dominance is an evolutionary gift: a survival technique
However - if you throw a ball with your right hand several times a day, every day, and that’s all you ever do, that evolutionary gift becomes a problem. It means that joints become worn out, performing only the movements for which they do have a halfway-decent map. As those joints wear out from inevitable overuse, the available range of motion gets smaller and smaller. Once you’re on that track, it’s only a matter of time before bad things happen.
Can we change this? Yes we can
1. Think Variety, not Intensity.
Your proprioceptor organs light up no matter what you’re doing; doing it harder isn’t necessarily doing it better.
Just experiment with and explore movements you’ve never done before. You don’t need gym equipment. Go slowly and easily. Remember, you’re drawing a map: use a pencil, not a sledgehammer
Example: Brush your teeth with your non-dominant hand.
Open a door with your ‘other’ hand.
Taking children to a playground?, Follow them around for fifteen minutes and do whatever they do.
Seriously. That last one will push your boundaries!
2. Think Bone not Muscle.
One important thing to remember: muscles don’t create movement patterns; they respond to them. While you’re experimenting with new movements, don’t try to contract specific muscles. Just move your bones.
3. Be Creative don’t Analyze
You do not need a gym membership to move, you just need a body. (Oh look, you have a body!)
Example: Walk to the shops or beach. On the way there, toss a stone back and forth between your left and right hand.
On your way back, force yourself to take the last 20 steps to your door at a rate of four seconds per step (this will seem really slow). Is it harder to slow down one leg than the other? How’s your balance?