Breaking it Down
I have received a lot of questions lately about exercises. Specifically what exercises to do, when to do them, what to eat before/after working out etc. I hope to give some insight into those with this newsletter and if getting more exercise is on your “to-do-list”, you now have one less barrier holding you back!
How Should You Move?
Exercise comes in all shapes and sizes. As long as you are being safe all forms of exercise work in your favor. The real challenge comes with specificity. How much should you do? How long? Before or after stretching/eating? Etc.. Let’s make this super easy.
There are six main categories of movements that our body can perform and need to for normal function:
A horizontal push (like a push up or bench press)
A horizontal pull (any rowing variation)
A vertical push (shoulder press)
A vertical pull (like a pull-up or a lat pull down)
A hip hinge (a deadlift, good morning, etc.)
A knee squat (any squatting variation, leg press, etc.)
Doing any combination of the above MOVEMENTS will always yield best outcomes. Your body is designed to move in three dimensions. Modern exercise has tried to compartmentalize this, but it doesn’t work as well as it should!
This is why you will always see top level athletes doing different movements for their athletic development. Their sport is in three dimensions, so their exercise should be too.
Your sport is the sport of your life! You are 3 dimension, so your exercise should be too! You may be used to doing exercises that are broken down by body part or joints. Bi’s/Tri’s; chest and back. Leg day. UGH!!! Everyone hates leg day!
You shouldn’t, and it’s much easier to appreciate if you look at your leg movements as foundational movements of everyday life. You may be reading this and saying “I don’t move as well as I should.” I guarantee you that you can do more than you think!
If you’re not sure where to start, simply assess how you get up out of a chair or your sofa. If you cannot keep your head pointed straight towards the ceiling when you try to stand up, and you find the need to “lean forward to launch yourself into a standing position – you have some work to do!
Practice this every time you try to stand up from anything. Keep your head pointed straight up, resist the urge to lean forward, and stand up straight up. You will be amazed at the different muscles that must now properly work in order to allow you to stand up.
What muscles to work out you may be asking? The most important of all – YOUR CORE!
Instead of straining the back erectors (and straining your spine), which are supposed to be mostly relaxed support muscles, the front abdominal muscles will have to engage, and what a wake up call that can be for you! Your hip flexor muscles will be grateful to not have to contract as much, meaning that they will put less stress on your spine too.
PS. Don’t forget to do your PSOAS STRETCH and PSOAS LIFT exercises we gave you via WebEx – these two will help greatly focus on yoru specific needs.
Now, you may be asking “Isn’t getting out of a chair while bending forward a hip hinge, the fifth exercise movement written above?” Well you would be right! However, the hip hinge is effective at reducing stress on the spine and engaging muscles in a useful manner when the movement is started from a neutral, standing position.
This means that your hips go from fully extended (standing), to flexed, and back to standing again. Therefore, getting up out of your chair should ideally be a knee dominant, squatting exercise and not “cheating” with a hip hinge. Good call!
Pro Tip: When you’re walking in a straight line, think about what part of your foot strikes first. Is it your toes? Your heels? Is it the right side of your arch, or the left? Do you feel like your upper body is ahead of your feet, in the middle, or a little behind?
People who spend their lives front dominant (chest exercises) tend to walk a little in front of their feet. Why is this? It’s all a neurologic response to being “front dominant.” Its also an indication of thoracic/cervical subluxations (spinal misalignments) preventing proper brain/body communication – making you lean forward!
What is the simplest solution to moving better? Get ADJUSTED, which stimulates movement in yoru spine and joints! Then go for a walk! Feel your feet make contact with the ground. Feel your toes push off as you take the next step.
Feel where your upper torso is when one of your feet is flat on the ground. Make subtle, shifting changes. This will help your body to heal, and it’s all based on an adjustment to your nervous system, and some mindful movement. Do you see it now?
Movement is meant to be simple, but it needs a mindful plan.
Move in all directions (3D): You can take anyone of the 6 basic movements above and do them in 360 degrees. Did you know both arms and legs can swing in 360 degrees? Move your appendages that way!
If you are looking to switch up your movements, do a leg exercise sideways, or at some unique diagonal angle. Just keep your knees aligned with your feet. Do arm exercises at all different angles, you may just need to change the weight.
Not only will this challenge your musculoskeletal system, but it will give your nervous system a different set of stresses, making even your activities of daily living (brushing, cooking, moving around, etc.) that much easier too!
Just like the proactive approach you take to ensuring you have the healthiest nervous system, the same can be said for your skeletal system with mindful movements aka EXERCISE! Movement doesn’t have to be hard or scary, it simply needs to be meaningful.