Our lives are vastly different than they once were. I’m talking about our way of living, the activities we do, the ways we move, the ways we provide for our families, how we get food, how we lounge and entertain ourselves and also how we play. We are far from what we identify as prehistoric man, and thank goodness! We now have brilliant technology and brains that continually allow us to make life more productive and just generally “easier”. I’m not 100% sold that all these things are positive, but they are how we live nonetheless. So, what’s the problem?
Our bodies are designed and meant to move and be used. The more convenient our lives become through technology the less and less we connect our bodies to the earth, to nature and to movement that requires us to run, jump, fight, play, climb, crawl, hike, and even walk. These are all essential patterns we should seek daily, weekly, yearly and throughout our lifetime. Yet, we find ourselves leading almost a completely sedentary lifestyle after we age out of mandatory physical education classes unless you are an athlete in high school or college. I know, I know, many of you reading this blog are saying “But Adrian, I love to workout, that is why I use FNX products and even why I’m an ambassador.” But what if I told you that still isn’t enough?
Let’s say you wake up, go to work for 8-10 hours (sitting most likely), go workout for 1-2 hours and then go home to make dinner and hangout with the family in front of the TV for the evening. Does that sound like an average day? It seems to fit the bill for most of us. The point is that while you may be burning calories and getting some gains in muscle and even losses in body fat, it is still a very little amount of “motion” through the day. In fact if we really look at training hard like that and then sitting so much through the day we are going to make our bodies more stiff and brittle than they were to begin with. So, yes… we ALL need more movement.
I have a few changes and suggestions I’d like to make at work places and in schools. For example, standing for much of the learning and work day. I’d suggest less time sitting and working between opportunities to go outside and move. In schools I’d encourage mandatory physical education from kindergarten through senior year of high school, why? Well our bodies are the only ones we get, learning them and reaching mastery in how to care for them, treat them, fuel them and move them takes a long time to learn, and we all need more time to PLAY! But I do have some tangible suggestions for you in the blog which is the whole reason I wanted to write it in the first place!
So how can you help yourself and improve your overall joint health and mobility? Spend more time on the floor. The positions you’ll find yourself as you lay, sit, crouch, crawl and play on the floor will build and sustain capacity to one day save your life. The difference between decrepitude and independent lifestyle as we age is often our ability to get up off the floor if we fall. Think about your parents or grandparents, if they were on the floor laying down, could they get up? And even in more of an advanced question, could they get up without using their hands? Can you? Well it seems to show that if you can get up without using your hands you are much further from mortality and morbidity than someone who cannot. Sounds like something we should all goal for right? Absolutely. A way to work on this other than just spending time on the ground to play and hangout is to work toward the 10 minute squat test!
The 10 minute squat test is a position where you set up your feet roughly shoulder width, lower yourself down into the very bottom of a squat with your heels still on the ground. Your torso need not be completely erect as we aren’t stabilizing a load, so a slight and natural rounding of the mid and upper back is ok for this drill! First and foremost, if this position is hard to achieve then you have some work to do and practice so you can first get there. If you can get there, our goal is to relax into the position and work on accumulating 10 minutes there throughout any given day. It’s a good idea to put this into practice 3-4 days a week, especially if your mobility is something you struggle with naturally. Once you can break it up and accumulate 10 minutes, then the goal becomes to do 10 minutes straight. As you venture toward this goal and achieve it, we are now more confident and comfortable in your ability to stabilize and move at the end range of flexion through your hips, knees and even ankles. These joints and their mobility are imperative to overall health and true happiness.
Your call to action is to recognize that the convenience of our lives is sometimes our downfall. We must move and move more often to be both healthy and happy. Take breaks from work or at school when you can. Learn and play new sports and new lifts in the gym constantly. And if you don't’ know where to start or what to do, spend more time on the floor and start working toward that 10 minute squat test! As we age, practice it more often and be sure to have goals in regards to drills like this. It could be what allows you to live independently and safely on your own. If you are curious to where I first heard about this drill it was from a man named Kelly Starrett and his program called “TRS”, The Ready State!