Most people think about healthy movement as the act of exercising. However, movement translates to improved brain function and thinking, stronger relationships and ultimately living your life’s purpose. It’s no secret: Human life has become structured in a way that makes it very easy to avoid movement.
We sit in cars on the way to work. At work we sit at our desks for much of the day. Then we come home and sit down to relax. Is this perhaps why our knees, backs, necks and shoulders are creaky and stiff and not moving as they originally should?
As humans, we move our bodies to express our wants, needs, emotions, thoughts, and ideas.
This means that how well we move — and how much we move — ultimately determines how well we engage with the rest of the world and establish our larger purpose in life. If you move well, you also think, feel, and live well.
What Factors Determine How Well You Move?
While there are universal human movement patterns (walking, squatting, lunging, pulling, pushing, etc.), our specific movement patterns are unique to us, and come down to individual bioengineering.
Your body amounts to a sophisticated pile of interconnected levers:
• Muscles are attached to bones with tendons.
• These tendons connect to two (or more) bones across a joint.
• When a muscle contracts, the tendons pull on the bone.
• That contraction and pull causes the joint to flex (bend) or extend (straighten).
And how your joints move is really determined by the size, shape and position of all of those parts, along with anything that adds weight, like body fat.
• Tall people (with longer bones) may find it harder to bench press, squat and deadlift the same amount as a short person.
• Short people may not run, swim or climb as fast as tall people.
• If you’re bottom heavy, you may have better balance.
When the lower back is pulled downward, it affects all the joints below (pelvis, knee and ankle). And it also works in the opposite direction, where poor ankle or knee movement can impact the lower back.
• If you have wider shoulders, then you have a longer lever in your arms, which means you may potentially throw, pull or swim better.
• If you have longer legs, then you have a longer stride, which means you’ll potentially run faster.
How To Start Moving Better
1. Pay attention to how it feels when you move. “Pay Attention” to your body:
• When you walk or run: How long is your stride? Do your legs swing freely? Do your hips feel tight or loose? What are your arms doing? Where are you looking?
• When you stand: How does your weight shift gently as you stand? What does that feel like in your feet or lower legs?
• When you sit: Where is your head? Can you feel the pressure of the seat on your back or bottom?
• When you work out: Can you feel the muscles working? What happens if you try to do a fast movement (like a jump or kick) slowly, and vice versa?
2. Ask yourself if you’re moving as well as you could.
• Do you feel confident and capable… are you “ninja-ready” for anything?
• Do you have any physical limitations? Do you avoid certain activities because of them?
• When was the last time you tried learning a new movement skill?