The no. 1 reason you feel so stiff and achey…

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Woman with stiff and achey shoulder

Stiff and achey!

Feeling stiff and achey is so horrible, isn’t it?  When even a minor thing like sitting down or standing up, climbing the stairs, or picking up a bag of shopping, give an unwelcome reminder of the weakness and unresponsiveness of your muscles?

Perhaps it feels as though you’re getting worn out, as though doing the simplest thing is a bit of a struggle, as though you have to fight against the unreasonable unwillingness of your body to perform in the way it used to…

And when you think about how it used to be – in your twenties, or even your thirties, say –  it’s all rather depressing…

Maybe you think of the stiffness as an unavoidable consequence of age.

Or as the influence of an injury you had a while ago.

Or the result of not keeping up your yoga/pilates/running as much as you used to.

But not everyone in these positions feels stiff and achey.  So maybe it’s genetic?

The truth about your stiff and achey body

Most of the people I work with start by complaining of stiffness and aches, and are looking for some relief – for a return to the ease they had before the aches set in.

There are of course lots of reasons why you can start to feel stiff and achey.  But by far the biggest reason, and probably the only reason which is a part of everyone’s life, is habit.

Not that it’s a habit to feel stiff and achey!

But that stiff and achey feeling develops because habits of movement create unnecessary tensions all over your muscular system.  And those unnecessary tensions give rise to the stiff and achey feelings you are now suffering.

Let’s take Suzie as an example.  Suzie came to me in her 40s, complaining of her stiff and achey body.  She was too young and too fit, she said, to feel so uncomfortable.  She’d done yoga and pilates, but neither seemed to address her discomforts for more than a couple of hours.

So we looked at Suzie’s posture and movement habits.  And she soon realised that without her being aware of it, her general posture and all her movements were subject to unrecognised and unnecessary tensions that were manifesting themselves as stiffness and aches.

Postural effect of habitual standing on one leg

an unconscious postural habit

Sadly, this isn’t just an eccentricity of Suzie’s.

We ALL have this as part of our way of being in the world – it’s just a matter of degree, and of how all those habits and tensions show themselves to us.

But we all have the possibility of becoming aware of, and then deciding to let go of all those habits of unnecessary tension.  And then we’ll be able to live and move with greater ease.

This is what Suzie did: working with me, she gradually grew in awareness of what she was doing to herself as she moved through her day, and developed the skills needed to move differently, with less tension and greater ease.

And her mid-life stiffness and aches faded away, which in turn massively brightened her mood and outlook.

What can you do now?

Suzie’s experience is encouraging, but if I were you, I’d want something I could use right now to get me started…  but how to develop an awareness of what you are doing unnecessarily, when that doing is part of your whole pattern of moving around?

The best way into this is to choose an activity of your daily life – something relatively short, and easy to identify, like brushing your teeth or your hair.  These are things that you almost certainly do without thinking about them.

So you need to make the decision to notice how you do your chosen activity.  Often, that simple noticing, or even just asking the question, will start a change towards greater ease.  And to take it a step further, you could notice whether you could hold the toothbrush, hairbrush, or steering wheel just a little less tightly (but not, in the case of the steering wheel, so as to lose control of the car! – maybe start on a straight road?).

Over to you

Let me know what you discover in the comments below – I really look forward to hearing what you find, as everyone is different!

What next?

If you’d like to hear more ideas on the Move with Ease theme, sign up for my fortnightly blog below.

And if you’d like to make the kind of ache-busting and mood-brightening changes that Suzie made, email me here to arrange some 1-to-1 work with me.

Photo credits:

an unconscious postural habit – Internet Archive Book Images / Foter / No known copyright restrictions

stiff and achey: everett225/

4 Responses to The no. 1 reason you feel so stiff and achey…

  1. Keri October 9, 2015 at 9:31 am #

    Hi Peter – great post! Thanks for sharing your wisdom. I’ve been feeling just like this recently, despite my yoga classes. I’m going to pay more close attention to what I’m doing with my posture and see if I can identify anything I’m doing which isn’t helping (I’m sure is are quite a few things!).
    Keri recently posted…4 steps to write a great work with me pageMy Profile

    • Peter October 9, 2015 at 5:20 pm #

      Thank you, Keri – I’m glad this spoke to you! It’s usually easiest to start small – so try asking yourself something specific, rather than go for the whole posture. Like ‘do I really need to hold the toothbrush/hairbrush/knife so tightly?’ Good luck – and let me know if you find anything interesting.

  2. Simon December 10, 2015 at 11:27 pm #

    Great thought provoking article with ideas I hope I’ll try soon.

    • Peter December 14, 2015 at 10:29 am #

      I’m glad you found it interesting, Simon – but do make that ‘soon’ in your comment actually happen! I know from experience how easy it is to put this kind of thing off!

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