Does your attempt to pick something off the floor mirror the movement pattern of a deadlift? I I asked you to get up off the couch, would you be able to pop right up or would you resemble a tranquilized gorilla? If you are like most people in developed countries, you move inefficiently and often in pain!
In theory, we should be able to move just like any other animal on this planet who, when faced with a task, gets moving and goes full speed. Dogs lay around the house all day and as soon as you break out a tennis ball they are sprinting out the door. In the wild, a gazelle goes from grazing to running for its like in mere seconds when a lion attacks. But with us, it is different.
We are brain-dominant beings which has led to spending hours upon hours sitting in our man-made, unnatural chairs rather than resting in our God-given positions or putting our physical selves to work. As a result, our muscles have adapted poor shapes and form causing muscular imbalances, tightness, and a lack of quality movement. When we get out of our Deluxe 3000 Office Chair to go to the water cooler, we ache, crack, and walk in a compromised position that further reinforces our poor movement patterns. Can you imagine what would happen if a lion attacked us?
In order to counteract the sitting epidemic, there has been a standing desk movement sweeping the country. If sitting is killing us, then the opposite, standing, must be the answer, right? Well, sort of. Standing desks can be a great tool and in more cases than not, they are better than sitting. However, they can be misleading and misused just as easily as sitting desks.
For standing desks to be beneficial, they must be properly adjusted so that you are standing in a strong, healthy position. If your desk is too short and you end up hunched over anyway, you are not getting the positive effects of standing desks. Additionally, standing in one position all day is not the answer to the sitting epidemic. The true focus of standing desks are to encourage movement. If you spend your day standing in rigid positions that are even slightly compromised, you can be setting yourself up for negative health effects comparable to those of sitting desks.
To move successfully, we need to move often and with proper form. It sounds easier said than done, but we have conditioned ourselves to stay in bad positions making it hard work to get moving the proper way. When we are babies, we learn how to walk, but no one has to sit there and explain that one foot goes in front of the other; our biological instincts get us through.
In fact, when you look at a baby walking, and ignore the weeble-wobbles, you will notice that their shoulders are strong and back, they stand nice and tall, and their gaze is straight ahead (plus they usually have a smile on their face, but that is a topic for another day!). The same goes for bending down and resting. When a baby wants to get something off the floor, he does so with perfect deadlift form. When a baby wants to play with something on the floor he sits into a perfect squat, an absolute work of art that most gym-rats aspire to duplicate.
Where did we go wrong? You guessed it, our modern-day Western lifestyle has driven us into compromised positions and a lifetime of aches and pains that requires serious effort to restore. In his book Deskbound, Kelly Starrett (the Godfather of movement, if you don’t know who he is, google him and absorb every piece of information he has available) draws a direct correlation between poor movement patterns and school-age children. He noticed that when students begin their first year of schooling, they begin to lack proper joint range of motion, aka sitting more equals a decrease in movement quality. Want to know why it is such a struggle for you to move well? It’s not just because you’ve been sitting all day, it’s because you’ve been sitting all day since you were in first grade!
Now, where do we go from here? We need to get ourselves back into the habit of moving, and moving well. Remember, if we simply move more but fail to restore our natural body positioning, we are putting unnatural wear and tear on our bodies. Robb Wolf, in his book Wired to Eat, makes the comparison to the alignment of a car. If your alignment is not right, your tires will wear unevenly and more rapidly in some cases. The body will do the same if we do not move the way we were meant to move. Our knees are susceptible to injury, our lower back chronically aches, and our hip becomes in need of replacement. So how do we move well? Stay tuned for our follow up article, 5 Steps to Moving Like You Were Meant To!
What movement challenges to you face? Let us know! Leave a comment below!