How to improve the quality of movement?

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Do you think that we know how to walk and move properly? You may be thinking that’s a silly question, of course I know how to walk. Are you sure? Most of us have injuries, muscle and joint pain, even if we did not do anything specific to aggravate it. But how we walk, stand, and all the repetitive movements that we do can cause imbalances and eventually pain or discomfort in certain areas in the body. 

It would be great it we could all get help from a physiotherapist or other professional to understand our own body type and learn correct posture. But what if you can’t get help, maybe you don’t have anyone in your area who can help or they are just too expensive? Here are some examples and exercises that you can use to identify and hopefully improve your movement quality in your daily life. 

First, our bodies are very smart and will always take the path of least resistance to move. For example, if you have back pain then you will probably subconsciously compromise your posture so that it is as comfortable as possible, likely via a posterior tilt (curling back) of the pelvis. Over time this eventually becomes a repetitive movement pattern in your daily life, but did you know that repetitive impairment of movement can accelerate the development of osteoarthritis? This is a degenerative joint disease in which the tissues in the joint break down over time, and it is the most common type of arthritis, especially in older people.

It is very important too to understand that if your friend has a similar back or shoulder pain as you do then you don’t necessarily need to do the same treatment to heal as they are doing. We all have a different structure, but more than that we all have very different causes for whatever injury we might have. So it is important to identify why you stand or feel a certain way, and then you can try to find the root cause. 

Let’s say you have back pain when you bend over. First, if something hurts then stop doing the movement and respect the pain. Second, think about what could be the limiting factors that are causing the pain? Maybe your back muscles are not strong enough, maybe you have tight hamstrings or hip flexors? Try to pay attention as you move with very light stretches on the muscles around the affected area, one at a time, and watch how your body responds. Likely your body will let you know very quickly what you need to stretch or strengthen. For example, most people who have back pain have tight abdominal muscles, so stretching those muscles can reduce their symptoms. You need to observe which muscles have more stiffness and which are more flexible.

Try looking in the mirror sideways, or taking a picture, to see how you stand. Are you leaning back, arching your back, or curling your spine? You can also stand against a wall and see if your back is arching too far from the wall or touching firmly? How about your shoulders, are they touching the wall or rolling forward? Even if you are not immediately sure how to change it, the first important step is to see your posture and identify how you stand.

Try to be aware of your posture throughout the day, especially if you have a sedentary job. Making adjustments such as adding padding on your chair or putting something under your foot to elevate is easy and can make a big difference. Keep your back straight (with a neutral spine) and your knees at hip level or slightly lower, and your hips should be as far back as possible in the chair. Also make sure that you take short breaks to walk or stretch if you are sitting for long periods.

When standing your shoulders should be aligned with your ears, abdominal muscles tight, feet hip width apart, knees slightly bent, and your head level and in line with your body. Good posture involves aligning your body in a way that reduces stress on the muscles, ligaments, and bones, and enhances your overall body function. This, and improving the movement quality, will greatly reduce your risk of injury and is essential for overall health and wellbeing. 

Regular stretching, strength training, balance and stability exercises and hydration give you comprehensive understanding about your own body and how to take care of it. Integrating these practices into your daily routine can lead to significant improvements in your movement quality over time.

References:

National Institute of Health. “Osteoarthritis”. https://www.niams.nih.gov/health-topics/osteoarthritis

National Library of Medicine. “Diagnosis and treatment of movement system impairment syndromes”. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5693453/

National Library of Medicine. “Guide to Good Posture”. https://medlineplus.gov/guidetogoodposture.html

Better Health Channel. “Posture”. https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/conditionsandtreatments/posture

Multiple Sclerosis Trust. “Good and bad posture”. https://mstrust.org.uk/a-z/understanding-and-improving-your-posture/good-and-bad-posture

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competition history

Ayda competes regularly in fitness competitions and is currently preparing for the 2023 North American championships.

NPC North American Championships, 2022
NPC North American Championships, 2022
NPC North American Championships, 2022
CPA Toronto, 2021

You’ve probably heard so many people say “I love what I do”, BUT in my case I can truly say it from my heart. I’ve competed in sports all my life, but it wasn’t so long ago that I really understood that actually I can only ever compete with myself.

“You are perfect, until compare yourself with someone else”

I started contest prep in 2011, and since then I didn’t stop competing. In some competitions I got first place, in some it went not so well, but every competition that I prepared for taught me something more about myself and helped me take the correct direction, which I believe has shaped my work and my life in such a positive way.

When I competed in my first bikini competition I had just moved from my home country Turkey to Canada, and was getting used to the Canadian lifestyle — and, of course, the language too, which was the hardest part for me. I always wanted to do a fitness or bikini competition, but when I was still in Turkey the work and cultural differences made it so hard to do.

So I was in Vancouver BC, working at Steve Nash Fitness Club, and one of my co-workers, who was a competitor herself, asked me “why you are not competing?” I started asking myself and questioning if I could do it? I’d never done anything like it before… Maybe you’re asking yourself the same questions right now! Of course I told myself “absolutely, I can’’. And my competition journey began!

Each show that I competed in gave me more knowledge about my body, and how I can improve. Of course, it’s not easy to correctly identify what’s missing with training and nutrition, and this learning process and all of the experiences pushed me to learn more… I’ve been a personal trainer since 1993, but I wanted more and began my nutrition studies. I finished my Comprehensive Nutrition and Sports Nutrition degrees.

And yes, I am still competing! You can see a list of all of the competitions that I’ve competed in further down this page. And right now, AGAIN, I am getting ready for my next show…!

I’ll warn you right now, it wasn’t easy at all. The easiest part was the training, which was already part of my daily life. But posing, dieting, supplementation, getting a bikini, finding a trainer… This was much tougher, not the mention the cost for the registration, jewelry, tanning, hair and make-up, they cost a lot too. 

But I wouldn’t let anything stop me, and right after my first show — WBFF in May, 2011 — I immediately started looking for the next show to compete in. I was hooked!

I am so happy to be able to help other competitors who are willing to work and improve their mind and health at the same time. My goal is to create healthy and happy bikini competitors, who want to challenge themselves and put in the work that needs to be done to reach their goals. There is really no easy way to get there… But there is a smart way.

I look forward to working together and sharing my knowledge with YOU to get you in the best shape of your LIFE!!!!! 

AYDA HAS COMPETED IN

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