Motion is lotion

Photo by Polina Tankilevitch on

 Growing up my cousin Keith joined the military and was stationed close by. Keith was tall well over 6 ft two athletic and the ladies in the neighborhood loved him. Keith also appeared to be pretty smart to me. Well, I wasn’t even in elementary school at the time so everybody was probably pretty smart to me. I wanted to be just like Keith when I grew up. One thing my mother jokes about to this day is that anytime you came over to the house the first thing he would tell me is Marquis go back inside and put on some lotion. You know light skin people can be ashy too. Well needless to say I never got to be six foot two and I didn’t gain any athleticism until High School. I wasn’t the guy that the ladies fawned over but  I remembered to put on lotion.

To heal our bodies need motion and stress due to joints. One of the little sayings and PT school that I believed was Universal, motion is lotion. Our bodies, especially anything that has collagen in them, require some sort of movement to continue to grow, reproduce and heal. If motion and stress are not applied that area either dies, doesn’t remodel or becomes stagnant. In order for bones to grow there needs to be biomechanical stress applied to them ie you need to move around and wait there. Muscles need some type of movement friction time under tension to grow and get stronger. You’ve never seen a bodybuilder that doesn’t put their muscles on some type of load. 

Keith knew that lotion was required to help the skin stay healthy. Healthy skin gives you the look of being healthy. As the old saying goes, if you look good you feel good. Back during the lockdown, I went through a couple phases of depression, one was so bad that I would go weeks close to months without putting on lotion. My skin was so dry it began to flake and it just hurt. Have you ever had your elbows hurt for no apparent reason not because you hit it or not because you moved it the wrong way but because it was so dry there were cracks and pores in it. Yeah, things got that bad for me. Our bodies are like that, also long periods of immobilization and are sedentary lifestyle causes the muscles and other connective tissue to basically lose their gift, their ability to bounce back, and the ability to move. I’ve counted so many patients who had knee pain or back pain and the only thing that felt good to them was staying still in one spot. Unfortunately, them not moving those joints are those muscles reduce the mobility in that area so when they did try to move it hurt more so they would not move it and it would become stiffer and when they turned they tried to move it again it hurt worse and so they were on this basic tragic cycle because their joints on muscles were crying out to be moved and weren’t. It seems to go against all common sense to move areas that hurt but once again motion is lotion and motion also allows for improved blood flow or vascularity which helps with the healing process and helps with pain relief. As a therapist, we always try to encourage our patients to move even when it hurts. Not because we’re sadistic monsters but because we know that in the long run, it’s going to be more beneficial. A lot of times we’ll try to have you moving in directions that aren’t painful that are close to the involved area to get the initial blood flow to that area and then slowly progress towards moving in the direction of pain.

Photo by Thirdman on

Have you ever had cracked toes? If you have, you know it’s not a fun situation. They feel like they’re bleeding without the presence of actual blood. You see little streets of red in between the cracks but there’s nothing flowing. With that pain you’re feeling it should at least be something flowing to let you know that you’re living but no it’s just some redness and what feels like death by a million paper cuts. My wife is always getting our kids to lotion up, especially during the winter time when you know the air is dry and your skin gets cracked and once again if not taken care of death by a million paper cuts. I remember being up in Utah in the mountains during winter before the girls were born. I had lotion in my travel bag, and little packets of lotion in my notebook because the dry air in that high altitude sucked all the moisture out of my skin. I wasn’t about to be the one black dude in a sea of medical professionals and be ashy. They weren’t going to have me looking like I was the leftovers from a campfire. My roommate for those two weeks laughed at the first couple days then he realized brown people get ashy too and he started to see some of those broken lines in his skin and felt the death of a thousand paper cuts and started baptizing himself in lotion.

Healthy skin is moisturized skin and a healthy body is a body that’s in motion. At the cellular level, we’re always in a state of motion. If not, the cell dies. If it’s at all possible even if it hurts we should attempt some movement. I’m not saying that if it feels like you’re being stabbed by a thousand knives to keep doing that movement now there has to be some kind of common sense to it but if it’s just a little bit of a nuisance or discomfort you need to move it. Truthfully, there are times when we all just want to feel lazy. Nobody wants to get up early on a Saturday morning. But if you have kids you know you got to because they want that cereal or my kids’ case bacon and eggs to go with their Saturday morning cartoons. Just like you wouldn’t ignore them to stay in bed, you shouldn’t ignore your body’s cries to be fed by movement. We also say motion is lotion because we know that the more you move are the more you perform a movement the easier it becomes so you’re basically reason up to joints to allow that movement to kind of light on through to make it smooth like my cousin Keith


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