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Have you ever limited your movement because of an injury? We have. Due to a recurring knee injury, Nicole thought, and over time decided, she would no longer do full squats. You know the one where you're standing and you drop your hips behind and below your knees? That was completely off limits . . . until it wasn't. In this article, we share how Nicole went from off limits to beyond her limits by revealing, facing, and making friends with self-limiting beliefs. She shares how her chronic knee injury helps restore confidence and trust in herself. SUFFERING IS OPTIONAL It's said that pain is a part of the human condition, but suffering is optional. When we hurt ourselves, it's awful. Along that unpleasant path lies a minefield of physical and psychological blockages interfering with our capacity to rebuild a pain-proof body. There's the initial inf lammatory response, plus a cascade of limiting movements and mindsets that instigate a defensive, healing mechanism. This is helpful and required for restoring integrity to the aff licted area. However, if the injury is not healed fully and functionally, not only does that area of the body begin to malfunction, but a butterf ly effect of asymmetrical and compensatory misalignments also takes hold in the body and mind. Our posture, our movements, and the limitations we put on our actions often suffer and we begin to move less and feel worse. The good news is we can regrow a body with greater physical and psychological resilience following an injury. Research continues to reveal that it's never too late to heal the pain of a past trauma or injury. For Nicole, there was a moment when she realized she was limiting herself because of a fear of hurting herself—again. That fear was initially protecting Nicole, but over time, the fear prevented her from doing things she loved. After years of slowly removing movements from her repertoire, Nicole started to worry: Was this how it was going to be for the rest of her life? Was she just going to move less and less and feel more and more scared to move? Frightening! Nicole started to get curious about the fear of hurting herself again. She wondered how she could use feelings of hurt and fear to actually help her instead of limiting her. How could Nicole protect herself and go beyond self- imposed limits? Nicole started gently, mindfully, and cautiously introducing scary movements that, in reality, didn't hurt at all. With wise guidance, repeated practice, and more patience, she realized she could do things she thought she couldn't. Nicole asked herself, "How many other ways do I stop myself before I even try because I'm scared?" As Nicole regularly practiced and slowly progressed deeper into the squat, the friendlier it felt, and the more her body confidence grew. She began recreating a new relationship with her body and a renewed sense of trust in herself. Turning toward and being with the fear of hurting herself— again and again—is changing how she cares for herself, how she cares for others, and how she moves her body through the world. Nicole is learning that she is not done with feeling scared of hurting herself. Yet with practice, she can trust herself to go beyond what she thinks she can do. Is there anything you tell yourself you can't do anymore? Something you stop yourself from doing because you're scared of what might happen? And would you be willing to mindfully and compassionately start creating a new possibility? Whether the full squat seems scary or not, regularly practicing it is worth considering. Here's how to do it safely and reap all the rewards of dropping your seat to your feet. DEEP SQUAT 101 A full or deep squat is defined as a position when the knees are fully f lexed and the back of the thighs rest against the calf muscles while keeping the heels f lat on the ground. It's not for everybody, and we suggest working your way down gradually, especially if it's been a while or if you are healing in your hips, knees, ankles, and/or back. The deep or full squat is controversial, and many warn it's a risky position for the knee. However, research has "failed to reveal any association between deep squatting and injury risk." 1 In fact, "Squatting at high f lexion angles may actually have a protective effect on ligamentous structures . . . The deep squat can actually contribute to greater muscle activation and development, improved 86 m a s s a g e & b o d y wo r k j a n u a r y/ fe b r u a r y 2 0 2 3 essential skills | SAVVY SELF-CARE Going Beyond Your Limits Embracing the Deep Squat (and Other Potentially Limiting Self-Beliefs) By Heath and Nicole Reed RICARDO CL/PEXELS.COM

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