Move It or Lose it, Buddy

The three main components of moving like a human (in my opinion) are:

  1. move slow
  2. lift heavy things
  3. be mobile

The first two are pretty self-explanatory, but that last one is pretty ambiguous. What is "being mobile" anyway?

Good question, and one which can be answered in several ways. And if you don't have a ton of time to dedicate to mobility, I'll try to get the main points across here.

Mobility is basically getting your joints to move in all the different directions and places that they are designed to move.

Some joints are only supposed to move in one direction (think elbow), some are biaxial or supposed to move in two ways (think wrist and ankle) and some are multiaxial (think shoulders and hips). Stretching is muscles. Mobility is joints.

Our mulitaxial joints are the most important joints and often times they are the most neglected -- like when you sit all day slumped over for many years, you're not doing much good for your shoulders and hips.

Connective tissue doesn't have an easy access to the blood supply so it relies on synovial fluid and diffusion to get all the good, healing things that the blood carries. And what drives synovial fluid into all the nooks and crannies of the joint? You guessed it: Mobility.

If you never move, or move in ways that you're DESIGNED to move, then your connective tissue (ligaments, bones, cartilage, etc) will continually get weaker and eventually break down, i.e. osteoporosis, joint inflammation, etc.

So the term "move it or lose it" is incredibly applicable here.

Mobility work can range from voodoo flossing to banded distraction to lacrosse ball and foam roll work to basic stretches. It can get very complicated and be very painful.

So if you only have a few minutes a day to dedicate to mobility work, my suggestion will be to work on the most important and most neglected part of your body: pelvis, hips and low back, since there isn't much you do throughout the day that DOESN'T involve those body parts.

And here's how to do that.

toes in.JPG

Get your butt up against a wall and spread you legs out as wide as possible (you'll notice I'm wearing orange glasses b/c these pics were taken at night). If this puts lots of pressure on the inside of your knees, you can twist your feet in like I'm doing here to take some of that pressure off. Stay here for a few seconds, then try to take it out wider.

toes out.JPG

Then take your toes out wide and move them back and forth -- in then out. You'll really feel your hips moving when you move your feet -- that's the idea: getting your joints to move in all the directions they're designed to move.

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Once you've had enough of that, pull your butt away from the wall a few inches and bring your feet down into a squat position. Keep your butt on the floor and move your knees in and out. Eventually you should work to where you can push your knees together. You will REALLY feel your hips moving with this position.

If you were to stand me upright, I would be in perfect squat form (head neutral, shoulders back, knees behind feet, shins almost vertical). However, I would fall backwards because I still have some work to do with my hip mobility.

After you do that for a few minutes, try this sequence. One foot forward, shin vertical, knee behind toes, and sink into that front hip -- hold for five seconds.

toes reg.JPG

Next, turn into that hip and hold for five seconds.

toes hip in.JPG

Turn away from the hip for five seconds.

toes hip out.JPG

Then push the hip away for five seconds. You can see my foot starting to roll up on the outside, that's Ok for this movement.

toes push hip out.JPG

That's a pretty basic hip, pelvis, low back movement to get you started. I always stand up from this feeling loose and limber. Do a test on yourself too. Stand next to a mirror before you go through this and see how far you can squat down while keeping your whole foot on the ground and the curve in your lower back.

Then do this sequence of movements.

Then re-test and see if you can go down farther while keeping heels on the ground and curve in the low back.

Move your joints. They'll thank you for it.

Let me know if you have questions and happy moving.

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