In our last Article, Are You Moving Wrong, we discussed the importance of moving well. We now know that our modern-society sets us up for failure in this respect. Our schooling, jobs, and even our leisure activities are performed while sitting in an unnatural position. However the news is not all grim! There is hope! The following tips will help get you moving often and moving well:
1. Move more throughout the day
Your body will tell you when you are in a position for too long. Whether you are standing, sitting, or laying down, your body gets uncomfortable and you feel the urge to shift positions. Take this as a warning sign. If you are sitting down and you feel the need to change positions, don’t just adjust yourself in your chair, go for a short walk or get in a small exercise. It doesn’t matter if it is a walk to the water cooler and back, some air squats, or dropping down and doing some pushups. This will not only relieve your muscles and get them moving like they so badly want to, it will improve blood flow to the brain leading to an increase in focus and productivity. If you can swing it, take your brief stroll outside and go for a brisk walk. Moving outside gets you much needed Vitamin D, can prevent you from overeating or eating unnecessary snacks, and can give you a boost in energy.
Outside of work, treat yourself as if you have minimal luxuries. When you need to go to the store, walk instead of driving (if at all possible). Sure it might take a little longer and you might have to carry a couple of bags, but that can be great for your health! If you can’t walk to the store, then try parking as far away as possible and trek it in. Instead of making coffee at home, walk to the nearest coffee shop and enjoy your coffee there. Both of these activities not only stimulate muscle activity, but are great mood boosters that lessen the “go-go-go” mentality that so many of us often suffer from.
2. Put in 10-15 minutes of mobility work each day
Performing maintenance on our bodies is essential to correct movement. If you drive your car without getting alignments and oil changes, it will break down much faster than anticipated. The same can be said for our bodies. We put ourselves in compromised positions, sit for long periods of time, and many of us exercise daily, which puts extra stress on our bodies. We need to give our bodies alignments and oil changes regularly. How do we do that? Through mobility work.
Mobility work includes relieving muscle tissues, restoring joint function, and putting ourselves in ideal positions. It can be as simple as breathing deeply into a stretching position (similar to yoga), using a foam roller or a lacrosse ball to work into tight muscles, or using a band to activate muscles that the nervous system are protecting. You will be amazed at how 10-15 minutes of work on a particular muscle group can make you feel instantly better.
If time is your concern in regards to mobility work, fear not! Many of the prescriptions can be done while watching TV or, even better, reading a book. I find that reading allows me to mentally escape the fact that my body is going through some serious changes and muscle pain, allowing me to get deeper into the stretch or soft tissue work. Working on mobility while reading, watching tv, or doing any other activity you might normally do also minimizes couch and sitting time. You will be killing two birds with one stone (figuratively, relax Vegan friends) in that you are improving your movement and reading/watching tv/relaxing/etc.
3. Rest in natural positions
In Are You Moving Wrong, we talked about the fact that babies are naturally super movers. Although they weeble, wobble, and very often fall down, they get into many positions that we have programmed ourselves away from. Our natural resting position, as seen by babies and cavemen, is the squat. When you need a rest, try sitting in the squat position. You may only be able to get into the position for a minute or so at a time but that is perfectly ok, take a break and go again. Eventually it will get easier and easier and you can get yourself to the point where you can stay in the squat position for 10 plus minutes.
If squatting is too much of a challenge, simply start by sitting on the floor rather than a couch or a chair. Work your way up from there. You can try sitting criss-crossed, with one-leg on top of the other, kneeling on one leg, or a combination of all these. The important thing is that you are not sitting in one poor position and that you are being mindful of what position your body is in.
4. Spend time in the positions you want to be in least. Sweat that area.
Sometimes the thing we want least is the thing we need most. This could not hold more truth in the physical sense. When your hamstrings are tight, you probably want to lay on the couch and cry, but what you really need is to get those things moving. Can’t get to the bottom of a squat? Guess what you need? To get into the squat position.
In addition to performing mobility work as stated before, sometimes you need to take your movement to the next level. I like to simply say, sweat the area. If your hamstrings are hurting, get on a bike or treadmill, or get outside and use your hamstrings. I’m not going to lie, it is going to suck at first and you are going to hate yourself. But once they get loose and you start to cruise, you are going to feel like a brand new person! Just be cognizant of the fact that you are trying to restore correct function, not overload and stress the body part. Don’t push yourself to the point where your hamstrings (or whatever you are focused on) are going to be even more sore tomorrow, because that is just counterproductive.
5. Do your research
This article is a start to getting you moving the right way. If you are serious about moving often and moving well, do some research and homework. Find what works for you and your schedule, and find something that you enjoy. Too often we make our movement and exercise a miserable experience and we barely see results because our heart wasn’t in it (see Why Your Workout Sucks for more on this). By reading or watching videos about ways to move that are specifically interesting to you and are delivered in a fashion that you enjoy, you are putting yourself in an environment that can lead to long-term success.
As stated earlier, I am a big fan of Kelly Starrett and MWOD.com. You might fall in love with his content or you may find that it is not your speed. Either way, thats fine. If you want something else, just hop on google or youtube and try to find something to you liking. Yoga is a fantastic way to restore proper function of the body. There are many different types, such as ManFlowYoga, that are geared more towards athletes or regular gym-goers and less of the unicorns, sunshine, and rainbow types of yoga that are a little much.
Remember, you have spent years and years in compromised positions. Although you may see some success initially, understand that this is a lengthy process. You can’t sit on your rear end for 30 years and then expect to pounce like a tiger after one day of moving. Work daily and get better every day!
What do you do to keep yourself moving throughout the day? Let us know! Leave a comment below!