How well and how often do you move? Do you think moving and exercising are the same thing?
Do you think lifting weights repetitively makes you stronger and healthier overall?
I'm just asking these questions because I often hear clients and colleagues saying Yes to the above questions yet I've never seen them exploring other planes of motion or shifting loads.
That we train hours in the gym, or running kilometres and swimming in the pool, but do we actually allow our bodies to move and work in the multitude of directions and twists and turns that it is capable of? For many of us who do not engage in ‘multi movment’ activities, this can be a danger. We equate hours in a single exercise that has us in ‘fixed planes’ of motion as being sufficient to keep our bodies in good shape and healthy. This could in fact be a little bit of ‘sticking head in the sand’ when you wind up on the treatment table with pain and injury and a perplexed expression of ‘but I workout’ on your mind.
There is a group that promote the idea of movement patterning and looking at the overall movement of the human animal as the primary aim and goal to target good health and adaptable and well tuned functioning people. The founders of the CrossFit system had this as their primary goal: "greater work capacities across broad time and modal domains" The idea to create an athletic performance that is not specific in one specialised ability and fitness, but in a general and more broad sense, encompassing a functional and adaptable athlete.
The human animal can be brought to an abrupt halt by dysfunctional movement patterns... common movement errors that can rob you of speed, power, endurance and strength.
Dr Kelly Starret
The quote above hints at what is possible when you begin to train inside your own specialised movement pattern. Continuing to train in known movement patterns and disciplines can and does develop strength and power and increases your performance. However, we can also become trapped in these movement patterns and disciplines without utilising the power and dexterity of other patterns to compliment and even enhance the movements that we are trying to perfect. If we don't stimulate new growth and new ways of performing, our body becomes adept at reinforcing only singular outcomes and forgets to utilise all that is available to us.
There is a movement of Bio-mechanics which is loosely explained as the ‘physics of movement’. This is looking at the intrinsic value of natural movements and the mechanics of what goes on with our bodies and the amount of movement that we are capable of, the history of movement we are built upon genetically and the science on how the body can move (right down to a cellular and microscopic level). Understanding movement and the possibilities therein has massive effects on how we can function more effectively and efficiently so that our whole system (not just our muscular/connective system) avoids pain.
The concept that most appeals is the ‘victim of captivity’. Essentially - that we are captives of our prescribed body movement patterns. We are desk-bound (most of us), we are seated-beings. We sit in the car, we sit at the desk, we sit at lunch, on the computer, on the couch watching television. We are captives of this frontal position and the flexed hips, curved back and forward head (mainly as we exist so much on device screens). This comes down to a philosophical move away from our traditional environment – our forest dwelling, hunter/gatherer biped mode. The natural evolution of our history has us as walking, running, climbing and negotiating other fields, such as water or sand. This changes the way we move how we utilise ‘rotation’ and twist to negotiate and deal with various changes in the
As a captive culture we exist in a sedentary space – Captive – we live inside ‘mini controlled environments’. Katy Bowman M.S - a biomechanist and scientist who promotes a movement based practice for good health and reduced pain, talks about how exercise has become the standard of our understanding of movement. Without the natural need to gather our food and hunt and battle with natural landscapes (hills, trees, mounds, seas) we have now associated things such as gym workouts as movement. Exercise has become a supplement of high intensity, short duration, quick fix pill that satisfies the need to move. But movement exists in a much broader sense, where we twist and turn and jump and arch ALL DAY LONG. Sitting on the floor, getting up off the floor and getting into ‘new joint configurations’ is vital to stimulate our bodies into the various planes of movement that is NOT tied to this ‘seated’ position (flexed hips, flat lumbar)
Repetitiveness is the main problem. Even before we were desk bound in the industrial revolution, we were standing at machines. We were involved in long periods of ‘shifts’ where we performed the same, repetitive movements. These controlled environments resulted in repetitive issues and thus repetition can and does bring about injury as the body units involved in repetitive actions get overused. In this way, prolonged standing in one position is every bit as dangerous as seated in one position. We need movement and a constantly changing stimulus to operate in different ways and stimulate different movement patterns so that we don’t over work singular actions or postures. This is what we must battle in the captive state - The Fixated Posture. We can change this even if we are forced to sit for 10 hours a day. We can sit differently. Get a different chair, a Swiss ball, a stool – change the posture. It has as much a benefit as does going to a standing position. This is where the adjustable work spaces that go between standing and sitting are really on the money. They change the way we work with our desk. A changing environment is a healthy environment to stimulate new ways of working. Right down to cellular and neural level. Neural pathways can be activated when we are standing vs sitting. It’s a game changer that stimulates alternative stimulus and this makes a big difference to how the body and the brain respond to movement. We know that sometimes when you walk away from an issue, you come back to it with a new solution – this is one of the reasons why this works! Its scientifically proven that movement stimulates a change in brain patterning.
Taking this to the next level and stimulating our bodies in different ways via exercise is another way to make sure we stimulate those new pathways, cellular activities and so forth. In this way, sport based activities sometimes have a one-up on other. The introduction of a ball or a bat into the equation, this can change the way our body moves. The way that our body interacts with other implements changes the way that our muscles are used to manipulate this object. I’ve talked before about the importance of bringing rotation into your training regime to ensure you are utilising all the various planes of movement into the body. This activates that all important facial connective system that incorporates a whole different set of co-ordinations and contractions that are utilised to enable that cross-plane movement.
Move in all different planes of motion because life is not linear - Guillaume Tual
Funnily enough, I have been seeing quite a few soccer players with this type of issue. Soccer is different because it involves movement ‘across the midline’ of the body. Think of passing a soccer ball with your foot. That fundamental movement involves a direct stress on the adductors that not many other sports do incorporate – to that large degree. So many of the weekend soccer players I get are not strong enough in the core ‘in the rotational sphere’ and necessarily open enough in the adductors to enable the movement along with strength in the supporting muscles of the hip on the supporting side to do this movement over 90minutes on a sunny Saturday afternoon.
This is a classic example of a different plane of motion. This is a classic example of how changing up your movement actions can work your body in different ways to stimulate different co-ordinations and motion. And this ultimately leads to good health as long as you can introduce it in a tolerable dosage. Like the Lion that is released into the wild after living in a cage – running across the open savannah is different to circling a cage and being hand fed. You can’t GO HARD too quickly otherwise you do end up on my table. But it doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t do it. You really just have to incorporate it in tolerable dosages so that you can eventually – run wild in the savannah.
In short, movement is about natural patterns of function. Not just singular planes and the performance of a single leap, throw or lift. Whilst these are worthy pursuits and the specialisation of these patterns is impressive and inspiring and to be rewarded, its not the only way that the body can perform. And to keep health and balance, these specialised patterns are often detrimental in the long run IF you are unable to bring into play the vast array of 'movement' that the body is capable of. So trying new and different planes of movement and investing in actions that are not your normal up and down, front and back actions are perhaps worth exploring because as Ido Portal promotes...
"we are humans first, movers second and specialists third"