Our bodies are meant to move! Walk, run, jump, kneel, stretch, reach, twist, squat, hang – the more we do these activities, the more aligned and healthier our bodies. You’ve probably heard the “sitting is the new smoking” catch phrase? I want to challenge you to go a step further than just standing up to understand what exactly our bodies need. When we fill our days with the activities listed above, amazing things happen. The movements keep the muscles in our hips elongated; encourage a mobile straight spine, our shoulders fall more easily back into place supporting a strong neck and balanced head.
We’ve got it easy these days compared to our “hunter-gatherer” ancestors. The luxuries that resulted from the Industrial Revolution have presented us with an unforeseen dilemma. With all the conveniences and less to do to get what we need, how do we continue to stay active? The answer I often hear from clients is “I exercise one or two hours every day!” Great! Maybe you’re like me; I love to work up a sweat. I want to be fit. As a former fitness center owner, I cannot imagine not having exercise in my life. I love to hike and kayak with my family. My husband is an avid biker. We exercise, but we need more movement.
After years working in physical therapy, and going on twelve years as a Posture Alignment Specialist, Certified by Egoscue University, I love helping people restore the alignment of their joints, become more functional and relieve their pain. So, you might wonder why I’m talking so much about movement.
Exercise and movement are very different things. Exercise is one important piece of the puzzle – how you move the rest of the day is just as important. Alignment is key. Exercise often works one area of the body through focused repetitive motion. There are great benefits yet at times we are inadvertently compromising other areas of the body. With repetitive exercise we are asking our bodies to function in ways they were not originally designed to function. The body wants and is able to perform with complete range of motion.
When thinking of movement, think of activities more people did generations ago: squatting while harvesting farmland, walking barefoot on uneven terrain, carrying items up and down hills, sitting on the floor. Movement works all parts of the body in the way it was intended to move. Movement is important because it nourishes the whole body by promoting blood flow, improving overall circulation – keeping us strong.
Alignment is important because when you move, the forces that go through your joints determine if your body is functioning properly. Think of your body like a car. If your car tires have worn unevenly, your car will pull to one side. You go and buy new tires and get the car aligned in order for it to drive smoothly. If the muscles in your body are imbalanced, it will create pulls that change the way you move. Correct the muscle imbalances and you improve the function of your body. Improving function means you’re moving better and probably moving more.
ALIGNMENT MATTERS AND MOVEMENT MATTERS.
The challenge is how to incorporate more movement into our daily lives. Awareness is the key! Just being aware of the amount of movement in your day will help you come up with ways to move more. Stand at your desk and roll your shoulders or do some toe raises. Squat down several times per day to pick things up. Walk on trails or hills rather than sidewalks and wear less rigid shoes for increased foot movement. Sit on the floor more while watching TV and notice how much more you move your body. Next time you take the kids to the park – YOU hang from the monkey bars too! Have fun with it. Challenge yourself. The more you move, the more you can move. Ask us next time you’re in Pain Free and we’ll give you some more amazing ideas!