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movement

Freedom of Movement

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When I was just 16 years old I worked the front desk at the local gym. Every morning at 7AM Calvin would check in with a huge smile on his face. I worked at that gym as front desk attendant, then group fitness instructor, and personal trainer before leaving for college. Almost everyday I was there I saw Calvin. 

Upon graduating college, I returned to the gym to workout and there was Calvin with a huge smile on his face.

Just last month while visiting my hometown I worked out at that same gym, and guess who was there....Calvin! 

Calvin is now 82 years old. He is in great health, happy, and energetic. His secret is simple. Never stop moving.

Movement is Freedom

Think of all the amazing things your body does for you on a daily basis. To move is a total privilege and it's medicine. 

Movement keeps your joints healthy. Unlike muscles joints do not have a direct blood supply. They need movement to get nutrition. You want those knees and hips to last a lifetime. 

Movement can boost your mood. It literally changes your brain chemistry making you happier and more optimistic. 

Movement makes you smarter. We learn with our entire body. Learning new moves and new skills builds new neural networks.

Think of movement as a way to code your nerve networks. “Neurons with the most connections, an average of 300,000, are located in the cerebellum, the primary movement center of the brain.” A variety of exercises that present unique challenges will code your body and brain for high level functionality. By providing your body and brain with new information you are literally upgrading yourself!

Why You Shouldn't Leave Out Cardio: A 2014 study in the British Journal of Sports Medicine found that aerobic training significantly increases the size of the hippocampus, the area of the brain responsible for learning and memory.

Movement builds confidence. When you push yourself and progress physically you are truly progressing mentally. You change your habits, cultivate greater will power, and literally transform from the inside out. 

MOVE BECAUSE YOU CAN

When I was a kid I had a terrible speech impediment and attended a special ed program at a young age. Nearly all of the other kids were in wheel chairs. They couldn't move. At that age I didn't understand why things were the way they were, but I do remember feeling very sad for them. From a very young age movement became super important to me not to just to be a great athlete or look a certain way, but because there is pure joy in movement and it's a total gift. For more see Grateful for Dirty Worn Out Shoes

Move...not just because it is good for you. Move because you can. Move with gratitude. Movement is a path towards liberation. 

 

 

Mobility Matters

Mobility is a prerequisite for movement. As a functional range conditioning mobility specialist and trainer I help people build a strong foundation for movement and training first, because practice doesn't make progress unless you practice correctly. It doesn't matter how you can bench or squat if your technique is faulty, because you could do more harm than good in the long run. Mobility limitations can hold you back or you may end up with injuries down the line. 
 

Check out this article for more
How to Relieve Your Aches and Pains With One Workout

Get Some Deep Squat and Hang time in Everyday

One of the greatest lessons I learned from my travels abroad is that to workout is a luxury. As my guide in Sri Lanka said, "The rich people do exercise and yoga, everyone else just uses their body to live and work."

In India and Sri Lanka I saw people climbing trees, squatting to simply rest, carrying bricks on their heads, and digging the foundation for a house with nothing more than a plastic bucket. Their backs were strong and they moved with ease. Mainly because they have been "moving like a human" their whole entire lives. 

In western culture we have adopted the habit of sitting in chairs often times in front of a computer screen or sitting in a car for hours per week. Sitting in chairs alone impairs hip mobility, leads to rounded shoulders in a slouched over position, forward head posture placing pressure on the cervical spine, compresses the spinal vertebrae, and decreases neurological drive to the abdominals, glutes, and legs (strong glutes and legs are essential for back health). 

Sometimes people think they need a certain amount of time or a facility to get a workout in. This is not always the case. High quality movement and mobility is a prerequisite for any workout you plan to do whether it's lifting weights, running, or even yoga so start there. The cool thing is you can do it anywhere! 

Everyday think in terms of movement patterns: squat, hang, hinge, push, pull, rotate. 

You most likely do many of these movements everyday anyways. What I am suggesting is to bring more awareness to HOW you are doing them and do them more often.

We can sit in a chair with awareness and use our core muscles and strengthen the back or get engrossed with emails, projects, etc get trapped in our heads and lose touch with the body as the shoulders round forward and the neck juts forwards. The key is to train the body and keep connection even as we are mentally engrossed with something else. 

Here are 2 Moves to Do Everyday for Better Mobility and Functionality

1. Deep Squat

Spread your feet a bit wider than hip distance apart. Keep weight evenly distributed in your feet. Drop your hips down towards the ground while maintaining the natural curves of your spine. Keep your chest lifted. Try to find length in your lower back by sinking the tailbone towards the ground. 

To Modify: 

Place a rolled up yoga mat or towel under your heels or sit on a yoga block or two. 

Just doing my laundry in India. 

Just doing my laundry in India. 

2. Active Hang

Grab a stable bar or overhang with your hands slightly wider than shoulder width apart. Keep your core engaged. Try not to over arch your back or swing. Keep tension throughout your body so your entire body is "active." Depress the scapula by bringing the shoulder blades down your spine creating space between your shoulders and your ears and retract by squeezing the scapula towards each other to lift and open the chest. 

To Modify: 

Choose a low bar or overhang, bend your knees, and let your toes touch the ground for support. Practice depressing and retracting the scapula for 10-20 repetitions and then releasing back to neutral to build stability and strength in your shoulders and also build grip strength. 

Catching some hang time for spinal traction on my way to explore Ella, Sri Lanka.

Catching some hang time for spinal traction on my way to explore Ella, Sri Lanka.

Move n' Play

Find something to hang from and get creative with it. New and novel movement patterns are good for the body and the brain!