I just got home from the dentist and my mouth is numb with novocaine. It is such a strange and bizarre feeling. I try to say simple things and everything comes out wrong. It made me wonder if this loss of motor control and dexterity over my mouth and tongue is similar to what some of my students experience.

Often when teaching people how to move, I assume everyone has motor control over their arms and legs and various joints, but am constantly amazed when they don’t. This novocaine makes it clear to me that lack of motor control can be contributed to lack of proprioception. Since I cannot feel my mouth and tongue, I have a hard time speaking clearly which is something that I still have the wiring for in my head. I have been using words for 40 years but suddenly, I cannot enunciate. When the numbness wares off, I will go back to speaking normal, but what about people that a lack of proprioception. I am not suggesting that people walk around numb all the time, but effectively, many people cannot feel their hamstrings, or their spinal erectors or their lats and the results are the same. They cannot move correctly. Even if our bodies are naturally wired to move a certain way, when we lose that proprioception our movements break down.

Think of long distance runners, many of them have psychologically gone numb from the waste down in order endure the hours and miles. They learn to block out not only the pain but all sensation. Thus they are able to keep going but often times with poor mechanics. And, unfortunately, we do not often see a return of proprioception after the race. The problem just compounds. I have found that the very worst movers I encounter are the long endurance athletes.

Thank goodness there are ways to develop proprioception. I use Yoga Tune Up therapy balls and other corrective exercises to reintroduce people to their bodies. It is quite empowering if you have people that are willing and able to rediscover themselves, but sadly with the return of sensation often comes the return of pain. That is why most people shy away from it and live their lives numb. Of course pain is not inevitable. We have techniques to eradicate the source of pain, but we can fix it if we can’t feel it. Don’t numb your pain! Find the source of it and eliminate it. Move better. Live better.

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