I was doing a consult recently with an active woman that went through physical therapy for some foot issues. As I assessed and looked at her gait pattern, I noticed there didn’t seem to be much movement at her ankles. Towards the end of the session, after working on several other things, I had her take her shoes off and worked on ankle mobility without using her toes. Every time she moved her ankles, her toes went a little bit haywire. She concentrated on the task at hand, and, as is often the case with these sorts of things, the second set brought about noticeable improvements. At the end of the session, as she was getting ready to leave, she shared she is a licensed therapist. “This type of training makes a lot of sense. I teach people regularly about discernment. It is extremely challenging the first time you do it, but each successive time, it gets a little bit easier as the neurological pathways change. If I work on moving my ankle independently from my toes, while it is hard right now, it will get easier and I will improve.”
I thought about it after she left (and after I looked up discernment), and realized this might be one of the reasons I am attracted to this style of exercise/movement/training. There is power in knowing the if you are unable to execute a pattern well, if you break it down, work on it consistently and mindfully, eventually you will be able to do it. This is a little bit like changing a habit, with the habit being, “I move in this way now, but I have the ability to change.” Change in life is hard. It requires introspection, mindfulness, willingness to look at the decisions and behaviors that are outcomes of habits. However, in the same way movement patterns can be altered, entrenched habits can be changed if you are open to breaking them down and identifying what you can control. The very first time you deviate from usual behavior or thought patterns, it is hard, but knowing that each time you reinforce the new pattern it becomes a little bit easier makes taking the first step a little more manageable.