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METICULOUS MOVEMENT MATTERS… AND SO DOES THESAURUS.COM

By Saravana Sekar
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Each day we are faced with thousands of tests against our abilities; Driving, Walking, Running, Talking, Standing, Writing, Analyzing, Breathing… I think you are starting to see where I’m going with this, right? Each second we live is an opportunity for our body to be challenged in some capacity, and many times we go through those ‘tests’ without a care in the world or even noticing! Well, there is one broad category that I feel should NEVER be done without attention, yet many of us don’t bat an eye for it; MOVEMENT

“I define mobilization as a movement-based, full-body approach that takes into account all the elements that limit movement and performance. These elements may include short and tight muscles, soft tissue and joint capsule restriction, motor control problems, joint range dysfunction, and neural dynamic issues. In short, mobilization is a tool for improving your capacity to move and perform efficiently.” – Kelly Starrett
Lately, mobility has been a buzzword in fitness, but many people aren’t too sure it actually means. Sure, they can presume it means to move better, but its foundation is much deeper than that. Mobility is much more in depth than stretching, as it encompasses controlling our movement in various positions to optimally strengthen and protect our entire being.

  • Grabbing veggies from the bottom drawer

  • Playing with your children

  • Squatting down to get that perfect camera angle

  • Lugging that 68″ TV up the stairs

  • Helping your neighbor move their refrigerator (or letting them do it alone –>)

  • *insert daily task here*

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ALL of the above examples will require us to employ our human movement skills in some capacity. If you unconsciously go about the day, plowing through your tasks without a care on what the hell is happening, I’d be willing to bet you have a few aches, pains or tightness that rear their ugly head on more occasions than you’d like. The reality is, a huge majority of them are preventable and reversible, IF you willing to commit some extra time each day to understand how your own body is designed to move and function.

THAT’S KINDA LIKE STRETCHING, RIGHT?
~Nope, Myth Busted, Try Again, Better Luck Next Time~

Stretching does not reduce pain, eliminate/prevent injury, improve performance, or get you into optimal positioning. The type of stretching I’m talking about intentionless stretching; like the traditional hamstring stretch, where bouncing up and down toward our toes for 15 seconds and thinking, “tada, I’m ready to rock!” is going to actually do something beneficial… Or even doing arm circles like a Wacky Waving Inflatable Tube Man will have nil effects on any of the perceived benefits we think we are gaining. Yet when most people have a restriction in their movement preventing them from getting into a desired position, they default to “Damn, I just need to go stretch more”.

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T-SHIRT DEMONSTRATION
As stated above, there is a huge difference between sitting in a crappy, stretched out position without noticing whats going on versus actively supporting and releasing tissue tension. To more clearly explain this concept of stretching versus mobilizing, I will call upon the t-shirt gods to lend me a shirt as a sacrifice. And to up the ante of importance, let it be a vintage 1983 Iron Maiden Tour Shirt (*gasp*).

If you have a shirt, you are willing to part ways with, I encourage you to try this yourself to see exactly what I mean!

Well, now imagine taking hold of both ends of the shirt, and begin to pull them apart from one another; almost like kneading taffy. Not before long, what happens? It becomes stretched out and loses its natural shape, making any amount of dryer shrinkage virtually ineffective. Now what do you think occurs to your muscles and tissues (a.k.a. what you are trying to stretch) when you test their limits and hold them in a position? They become stretched, loose, and for the time being, will lose their integrity, just like that irreplaceable vintage rock t-shirt. By getting yourself into extreme end ranges of motion positions without having the necessary strength and control in those areas, you are not doing your body any real justice, and potentially can end up worse off than when you began.

Just like with strength or endurance training, proper mobility needs progression, consistency and patience to build your body to be ready for more intense positions. Like the picture on top, the “Brettzel”, focuses on thoracic spine rotation while supporting the hips and knees to intensify the movement. That would not be a ‘Day 1’ routine by any means; as it requires awareness on our initial body positioning to protect the lumber (lower) spine, neck, and knee joint. However, very similar benefits can be achieved with the picture below, “All Fours T-Spine Rotation”. For both, the focus is on improving thoracic mobility, but one is just a progression of the other. Over time, we become more adaptive to funky positions that can have tons of benefits to make us bulletproof in our training and daily lives; and who doesn’t want to function with discomfort all day? Hopefully, the answer is EVERYONE!

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