Another strange title from a personal trainer, although hear me out. Alongside many epidemics in the world, the lack of and inability to move freely (without pain) is an increasing concern. The amount of people I see (including myself) that struggle to stand, walk, run or move (without pain) is alarming. The strange thing is that more people are exercising more than ever, so why is this happening?
Today there is a gym culture where pushing yourself until breaking point is applauded, lifting heavy is encouraged, not walking after leg day is a success or not sweating profusely; you’re not training hard enough! Just go on social media and all you see are bodybuilders pushing to point break, cross fitters performing technical exercises incorrectly and workouts that can only be described as dangerous.
People will argue that ‘movement’ is ‘exercise’ and a lot of people would be correct… well kind of. Movement is much more than exercise – movement is living. The human body has many purposes, yet the most fundamental is to survive, without movement we struggle to survive. Just try doing daily chores with a sore lower back, it is not a pleasant experience. An explanation for this could be our ability to adapt to our surroundings becomes compromised then injuries or pain could occur. I always tell my clients that their body is a representation of their lifestyle; meaning if you have tight ankles, hip mobility issues and/or an immobile spine combined from a sedentary environment, then not exercising enough is the least of your worries.
“The pattern of disease or injury that affects any group of people is never a matter of chance. It is invariably the expression of stresses and strains to which they are exposed, a response to everything in their environment and behaviour” Calvin Wells; Bones, Bodies and Disease.
Movement just like nutrition (another fundamental aspect of survival) needs variation and has to be done regularly throughout the day and of good quality. For example, if I only ate an organic kale with free range chicken salad every day, 3 meals a day, the rest of my life, would that be considered as healthy? Or how about eating my daily requirements of calories in one sitting, am I healthy then? NO, so why do we think that only working out 45 minutes a day 3 to 5 times a week with compromised movement patterns is enough?! Not only that, half of the movements performed in commercial gyms are usually performed on seated machines, as if sitting for most of the day isn’t enough.
After numerous years of debilitating injuries and walking around like a Penguin, my philosophy on how I exercise has taken a dramatic turn. My focus has shifted to improving the articulation of as many joints as possible, putting my body in unique positions and being more mindful with my movements. In order to do this I moved from the more traditional approach you see in a gym, to only using myself as resistance. I also switched from wearing training shoes to being barefoot; this has been the best decision of my life. My ability to move freely has improved, the pain that I once endured is slowly subsiding and my body is feeling amazing.
My emphasis is now on exploring new movements, healing damaged areas, allowing myself to de-stress and most importantly enjoy myself. I challenge anyone who is reading this to sit on the floor and get up without using their hands as many different ways as possible, hang off a bar without your feet on the floor and crawl/roll around the floor without a care in the world, I guarantee your body will appreciate it.