Thursday, February 25, 2010

How You Move Affects How You Think

I have become fascinated lately with an emerging area of science: that of Embodied Cognition. Embodied what? What the heck is that?!?!?!

Those that study Embodied Cognition believe that the nature of the human mind is largely determined by the form of the human body.

Let me cite some research examples:

• A recent study at the University of Vanderbilt was the first to demonstrate that the brain uses bodily cues to help understand and solve complex problems. Participants who were instructed to swing their arms in a particular way were 40% more likely to solve the problem than the control group.

• A study conducted at the University of Amsterdam showed that subjects thinking about the future leaned forward, while those thinking about the past leaned backward.

• Researchers at Yale found that subjects holding warm coffee in advance were more likely to evaluate an imaginary individual as warm and friendly than those holding cold coffee.

• Students told that that a particular book was important judged it to be physically heavier than a book that they were told was unimportant.

• In a parallel study with heavy versus light clipboards, those with the heavy clipboards were more likely like to judge currency to be more valuable and their opinions and their leaders more important.

This leads me to think about all of those folks in America who are experiencing chronic pain – particularly back pain since it’s so prevalent.

If you are in chronic pain, how do you believe that it affects the way in which you experience the world?

The answer – it affects it a great deal.

You see, chronic pain causes limitations in the way in which you move.

If you have limitations in movement, you will have other limitations in your self-image – the way in which you think, feel and emote.

As Dr. Michael Merzenich, Professor Emeritus at UC San Francisco states, Awareness, cognition and movement are really inseparable…isolated weakness or loss in ‘movement’ or ‘awareness’ or related ‘cognition’ is a human impossibility.”

So if chronic pain takes away some of our freedom of movement, it will also cause us to lose our ability to think, feel, and emote in a clear fashion.

The implications are HUGE.

If we are able to learn to move in a more efficient way – in a way that is more harmonious with our structures, thereby decreasing or eliminating chronic pain – we would then be able to think, feel and emote more efficiently as well.

We would become much more highly evolved.

And more intelligent.

And more productive.

And more creative.

the possibilities are endless.


Chances are, you have experienced persistent, chronic pain at some point in your life. How did it affect you?


Leave a comment and let us know if this makes you rethink the importance of efficient, effective movement in your life.


Chad Estes

Movement Specialist

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