You've probably heard of proprioception but maybe not interoception.
Plainly interoception means to be able to feel one's body from the inside out.
Interoceptive cells exist inside the fascial tissues. These cells allow you do do things like feeling your breath down in the hips or even the toes, feeling your spine, feeling the organs, and feeling differences in balance, ease of movement and function. Interoceptive cells may also help give us that "gut feeling".
Research on fascia, the vagus nerve, the gut-brain connection, and newer research on interoception and pain are all very interesting to me.
Not moving restricts the fascia and nerves into a limited pattern. Our visual attention is limited to the sagittal plane (computers). Our furniture is plush and we rarely sit or squat on the floor. Perception is limited by the amount of time you spend sitting. I believe lack of perception may be worse than sitting.
Our forefathers hunted and gathered. They ran, climbed trees and squatted. They scanned their surroundings looking for life and danger. They had perception. They definitely understood their relationship with nature better than us and I think they understood themselves and each other better.
Today you have to fight and work for this awareness. Exercises and movements that increase interoception can help people realize that their body is more than a soft machine to carry around the mind and soul but that there is intelligence and guidance within the body. A lack of interoception is correlated with pain and I believe increased body awareness is first step to changing a pain pattern.
Mary Bond says in her book The New Rules of Posture "The way you live in your body has social consequences". She says in a podcast "that modern lifestyle has made it easier for us to communicate and gather food. We don't use our bodies in ways that make us feel them. Often times the only time when we feel the body is when we feel the pain of not moving". She says " When in an embodied state you're feeling your aliveness and the awesomeness of your body and the reality of your own death all at the same time." "When you feel this is helps you be able to better walk with fellow brothers and sisters". "This awareness is vital for the continuation of our species"
Tonic Function is the way you relate to gravity and how you organize your stance. Bodywork like structural integration can help to improve tonic function. Improving tonic function teaches the body to make gravity its' friend. Better Tonic Function increases efficiency and reduces body strain.
However, bodywork alone isn't enough Tonic Function and Interoception must also be improvemed by good movement. My teacher Kaylee Cahoon says "Good movement is good movement." I guess any movement is better than none but then I'd being going back on my earlier statement of lack of perception being worse than sitting.
Good movement is anything that makes your body feel better after. Do check and make sure its not your ego that feels the joy though. Like my teacher in Thailand says "Yoga good for the head(ego)...terrible for the body". The feel the burn type classes are definitely counter to increasing interoception. Find a good yoga, Pilates, dance or somatic movement teacher to help you with this.
If you are able to increase level of interoception then you will likely reduce pain, improve performance and potentially reap the psychological benefits as well. Embodiment could also be paramount to the survival of our species. As more people become aware of their bodies more people may also become more aware of how they affect others and the environment. This could lead to less violence and less pollution which in my opinion are the two leading reasons for mother earth to finally be fed up with us.
Follow me in IG @nashvillebodyworker for somatic movement and stay tuned for upcoming YouTube videos.