Practice Makes Permanent

Practice Makes Permanent

“Watch your habits, for they become your posture. Watch your posture, for it creates your boundaries. Watch your boundaries, for they restrict your growth. Watch your restrictions, for they create immobility. Watch your immobility, for it becomes your illness.” - Katy Bowman, Alignment Matters.

It is often said that practice makes perfect, and that an individual must devote 10,000 hours to achieve expert level skill in any endeavour.

It is true, that we can’t assume to suddenly enact what we read or hear without a conscious effort. We often have years of practice, programming our habits. Unconsciously, we have all devoted 10,000 hours and more to becoming an expert version of being ourselves.

But if practice makes perfect, why do we all have so many things that we would like to change? I meet new patients daily who tell me about the chronic pain and discomfort they’ve been experiencing. The things they’d like to change, and the habits they just can’t break. I’m no stranger to it myself. So it seems that practice does not make perfect, it makes permanent.

The little actions and choices you make every day, are strongly entrenched in your thoughts, values, and beliefs. And for the sake of survival, our bodies are primed to value the conservation of energy and movement. We have no shortage of tools to help use with this endeavor. Chairs replace the effort of squatting. Prepared foods replace the effort of harvesting, chopping, and cooking. Even overnight delivery replaces the effort of meandering and walking to select and purchase what we need (which is already a far cry from the movement required to make clothing and other goods for ourselves). We are expert level at conserving energy, and our bodies show it.

The good news is that you have proven time after time that you have already achieved expert status. Which means, you can mindfully choose your next expert skill.

For example, choosing to sit up straight on a bar stool requires core strength to hold you upright. This might feel challenging after years of slumping forward (where your belly doesn’t engage well) and you might fatigue after just moments. Stick with it. Build strength with new, deliberate habits. It’s easier to train your core with gravity helping you out. So lay down on your back, bend your knees and plant your feet to give your stomach muscles the best chance to pull in (not out) and hold while you can breathe. When that feels easy, try it seated and standing.

Perhaps the knowledge that you are building a new habit, to replace an old one, will be helpful to keep you going. Perhaps it’s knowing that it takes 6-8 weeks to build muscle strength that motivates you. Or perhaps it’s the knowledge that change doesn’t happen overnight, but with consistent, deliberate effort.

If practice makes permanent, what are you perfecting today?

Always in Service,

Dr. Carly