Doing it Wrong to Feel What’s Right

A few  month’s ago I was reading a book by Anat Baniel (“Move into Life”), and she wrote something that resonated with me:  You sometimes need to do something wrong before you know when it’s right.  After reading this I realized that we focus so much on how to be correct all the time, that we aren’t listening to what our body is telling us as we move in life.

A great example of this is swimming.  When I coach on deck these days I am always trying to challenge the athletes to not only slow down, but I also want them to think, then feel what is happening to their body, and their relationship with the water.  I have found that sitting on a deck ‘telling’ someone to do x-y-z does not help them at all if they can’t feel what they are currently doing.  Each movement we make in the water has implications over other movements.  If you tilt your head in one direction it will affect how your body reacts all the way down to your toes.

A great example of this is the athlete who doesn’t realize that they tilt their head back towards their armpit.  So I want everyone to stand up, and tilt your head towards your shoulder as if you were taking a breath while swimming.  Did you see what happened?  Did you feel how your body responded to that movement.  Just a small movement can affect the whole stroke cycle, not to mention what the legs will then do in response.

The athlete who holds tension in their hand (thinking that the hand is in charge of the stroke – it’s not!) doesn’t realize that their range of motion has just been limited.  Here is another quick test:  Stand up, make a fist with both hands, and now bring both arms up overhead.  Check to see where your range of motion is (or isn’t).  Next, relax those same hands, and retest your range of motion.  Viola!  You gained at least another 2+ inches right?  So imagine the implications if every time you take your hand out of the water and allow it to lead the recovery.  That hand is holding tension that will transfer up the arm, and then when you enter the water it will fail you just when you needed it to actually ‘feel’ the water (there are other responses to the body that are also negative, but won’t go into it now).

Today I had swimmers change their exit position of their wrist from thumb exiting, to middle finger exiting, and then the pinky finger as well.  By allowing the swimmers to experiment with what is right and what is wrong can have profound affects as to their relationship with the water.  And by the way?  What is right for me, may not be right for you!

Some other ways you can experiment in the water:  Kick with really big wide kick, kick with a tiny kick, change your head position up, down, forward, etc.  Change your wrist position after your hand enters the water.  Try waiting really long before you try to ‘catch’ the water, or try starting your catch right at the surface of the water.  Experiment with different movement patterns so that your body can find itself in the water, and move as well with ease.

You can do the same thing while running (and if you try it messing around with body positions on the bike, please do it on a trainer) as well.  Head down, head up, arms crossing over midline, arms really wide out, tiny arm swings, big arm swings, turn toes out, turn toes in (the list is endless really).

Doing something that you may feel is not right, may actually be what is correct for you.  But then again, maybe not, but how will you know if you don’t try?