I’ve held more then a few 1-on-1 sessions lately. Helping my people find their potential, helping them open up, find better positions, and improve movement technique. Even though each of these session is unique, tackling the individuals personal issues it seems a few themes keep popping up.
Breath, hips, shoulders, and understanding their interconnectedness.
I teach people how to move. Which I hope translates into how they live. My theory is that if people are moving better they will feel better. If they feel better they will be happier. If they’re happier they’ll make better decisions. Better decision making individuals make for better citizens. Better citizens make for a better world. And that is really my goal, to live in a better world.
The more I teach the more I am reminded of how far we have strayed from knowing how to move properly, and how far removed we are from understanding how to get back there. Proper movement requires proper positioning and activation, not more of the same poor patterns. Doing more does not make you better. Let me repeat that, MORE DOES NOT MAKE YOU BETTER. More squats, more down dogs, more miles running, and more push ups do not make you better. Better squats and down dogs make you better. Better running mechanics and push ups will make you better. Once you’re movement patterns are better than you can do more, because now you can move without creating injury. Now you can move in a way that builds up your body, not breaks it down.
Now that we’ve established MORE IS NOT BETTER, BETTER IS BETTER where do we start to acquire these better movement patterns? Positioning is where. Positioning sets our bodies up to express their capacity in positive ways. In a manner that doesn’t tear and shred soft tissue or wear out bone and joints. Kelly Starrett has done a fantastic job getting us to mobilize ourselves and work towards finding better positions. I use his work constantly to teach. I also see too many people attacking their mobility the way they try to attack a workout. Aggressively and with little regard to the big picture. So I want to establish some rules of the road if you will. Some rules that we can all follow towards becoming better movers.
Rule 1. More is not better, better is better, we already established this above. Twenty minutes of flopping around on a foam roller or “stretching” with bad posture won’t create positive change. But five to ten minutes daily of consciously practicing being better will create positive effects.
Rule 2. Breath rules all. You can not relax if you aren’t getting oxygen. This is not an opinion, it’s fact. Use your diaphragm, aka belly breaths, take large deep breaths filling as much of your lungs as possible then use your exhale to relax into your position deeper. Kinda crazy, those yogis figured this out a long time ago.
Rule 3. Tension is tension. When I teach how to lift heavy stuff I’m constantly repeating “get tight”. Learning to create tension throughout the body is a skill. So is learning to relax, especially in the face of discomfort. If we are holding tension in our bodies we are creating tension throughout our bodies. This directly counteracts what we are trying to accomplish with that Yoga Tune Up ball jammed into our scapula.
Rule 4. Pain is not gain. Pain is your body telling you something isn’t right. Pain is your body giving you feed back, saying something akin to: “Hey big guy!!! You’re damaging something in here. Stop it!!!” Discomfort is one thing, it’s going to be uncomfortable creating positive change in your body. You just spent the last 20, 30, 40 years putting yourself into shitty positions. It’s not going to be easy to change that, so yes it will be uncomfortable. But it shouldn’t be painful. Keep the pain level down to a 5, 6 at tops. If it gets higher than that your body creates tension in order to protect itself, see Rule 3.
Rule 5. An apple a day. A day. Daily. This stuff needs to be done daily. As mentioned above in Rule 4, you’ve spent the last X years putting yourself into bad positions, creating poor movement patters, forming a shitty “normal”. It’s going to take some work, conscious effort on a daily basis to create change. I’m going to guess it takes about 5-10 minutes for the average person to eat an apple. “Eat” your apple daily, spend 5-10 minutes a day working on your mobility.
Thats it, five rules to help you start becoming a better version of you. One that doesn’t have aches and pains, one that can express their physical self to it’s utmost capacity, one that feels good.