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Mindful Movement holds the key to Athletic Potential


Meet Our Guest Blogger

Nicole Brûlé-Walker started her consultancy in International Sport and played Rugby in Canada. Her work has evolved over 20 years to create a more holistic system of seeing and treating the whole body with integration to your mindset and emotions.

She has a passion for longevity and building sustainable health & wellbeing. Her expertise has been invaluable to her clients, both individuals, teams and U/HNW families. She works alongside other health professionals to provide her unique perspectives on healing and personal development.

Mindful Movement holds the key to Athletic Potential

We think of movement as being interchangeable with the term exercise. They are in fact, two very different concepts. You generally have to move to exercise, but it is the quality and feeling of how you move that creates your true potential.

When you want to enhance a particular area of your health or fitness like your strength or cardiovascular fitness, there are specific techniques or regimes that you follow.

But what happens when that training is creating strain or further injury?

Science has measured the outcomes and gains for strength, conditioning and cardiovascular training but it doesn’t account for the individual factors that are unique to each and every one of us. 

The ‘acute’ injuries seen in sport usually come through traumatic force but typically the weakness had been set up a long time before the event. Every thought, feeling, trauma, habit or injury you have sustained is held within your body.

It is only when we can ‘map out’ the historic events and see how your body has learned to move around them that you can fully understand ‘why’ injury occurs and how to resolve it. 

The process of mapping physical movement through the Flow Motion Model™ as developed by Gary Ward, Anatomy in Motion is essential to understanding how specific movements or lack of them can impact on the whole body.

Often there are residual patterns that remain after an injury, for example, if you significantly injured your ACL/MCL ligaments in your left knee you would temporarily shift your weight over to right to avoid pain and the instability caused by the torn ligaments.

You might then adapt to avoid resting your weight in your heels, as that results in hyperextension of your knee. This would take your weight forward into the balls of your feet. In order to support your left knee going into extension eventually, your pelvis may rotate to the left to help facilitate the movement that is lacking.

These are not the same responses that would happen in every single case of ACL/MCL injury even though the exact mechanism and the resulting damage to the ligaments showed up on a scan. Every single body adapts in a different way so my explanations may seem quite simplistic, but they are just an example of what could happen. A detailed assessment of you and your history combined with observation of how you move would bring the adaptations to light that you have made over time.

Modern medicine is good at investigating and testing for injury or illness, but it doesn’t give you the ‘why’ behind it happening. On a low level, your body is alerting you to changes in tension, discomfort, compression or disease every minute of each day. We must become better at reading these signs ourselves in order to prevent injury.

Mindful movement creates an awareness of your body by focusing on what you feel, where you feel strain or ease and how is it different from one side of your body to another? You can further layer in emotion and mindset by considering how you feel about moving in a particular way.

Anyone who has suffered with a significant injury will be able to say that they felt nervous about a return to sport or training. When you are apprehensive, you build up more tension in your body as a way of protecting it. Playing sport or exercising while there is increased tension in your body results in further strain or reduced efficiency of movement. Your heart rate, respiration rate and breathing will all adapt to this state of nervousness around moving your body and further change your training outcomes.

The ‘acute’ injury sustained can heal typically within 12 weeks, but it is the patterns of movement created to protect you that can prolong recovery and potentially set you up for future strain.

Imagine a moment where you felt effortless yet powerful, your body and mind combining into a state of flow that enabled you to achieve great things. How did you feel?

When your body is centred and each part doing what it was designed to do, this sense of flow is accessed and then you can build sustainable fitness and performance on top of this.

Going back to the example of the ACL/MCL injury above, if you chose to put more weight through your right leg to spare the left one while it was healing, your pelvis would drift closer to the side. This would change the length and strength of your Adductors and Glutes based on mechanical advantage. It would reduce the efficiency of your Hamstrings and Quadriceps because they would be operating at an angle.

In the upper body, your spine would bend slightly to the left to compensate for the pelvis moving over to the right and your head would tilt to the right to maintain an upright position.

These are potential changes that occur from one injury but imagine if we considered your whole history and the number of adaptations that had to occur to protect you?

It sounds complex but once assessed you can utilise the knowledge to build better training plans, reduce injury time and take control of your health.

When you can feel the subtle shifts in your body, you can take action to rebalance and adjust what is needed to create a physical platform from which excellence can be nurtured. You create systems and programs that are made for you.

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There are immeasurable benefits to becoming more mindful about your movement whether you are injured or not. Creating awareness is the first step and just in a few minutes each day you can access information that will help you tap into your full potential.

Try this awareness exercise for a few minutes each day:

Stand in a stance that feels natural for you.

Take a few deep breaths to really settle in the position you are in.

Bring your awareness down to your feet.

Do you notice any tension in your feet while you are standing? Any gripping of your toes?

Do you feel like you have more weight on one leg compared to the other?

Is one foot flatter on the floor than the other?

Do you feel heavier in the balls of your feet or in the heels?

What adjustments do you have to make to feel more balanced?

When you feel more balanced in terms of your weight distribution, equal right and left, front and back of the foot-what happens to the rest of your body? How do you feel?

Afterwards, reflect on what you learned about yourself during this time.

When I work with my clients, this is the level of detail we talk about in our sessions. We create a state of physical resilience that teaches you exactly what your body needs to heal, maximise your performance and create pathways to higher levels of fitness, health and wellbeing.

I would love to hear what you noticed in the awareness exercise above and what you learned about yourself through doing it.

These pieces of information uncover the steps needed to reach your true potential and develop personally and professionally.

If you’d like to learn more, or perhaps you suffered an injury that is subject to a lengthened healing process. Nicole’s services could be the answer to your problems. Feel free to reach out via for an introduction.

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