Movement is something that we often take for granted…until we can’t do it. The reason why this is the foundational pillar of the MVMNT method is simple: To move is to be alive. Every living thing on this earth must move, shift, advance, grow, develop or evolve. But, before we dive deeper into why movement matters, and its purpose, I believe it is important to shed light on the very opposite of movement: stagnation.
Think of a pond that has algae growing on it. This algae grows as a result of the water not moving or not circulating. Thus, the cessation of moving water develops a growth of bacteria on its surface that makes it less drinkable and not super beneficial for the wildlife around it. In this example the stagnant water represents a body that is motionless and begins to develop tension and stiffness. In the absence of this flowing energy we become more susceptible to disease and developing illness. When we are not moving often and not circulating the blood especially when dealing with a stressful external environment this causes a clogging of our inner environment.The purpose of movement is not only vital to our health as a species, but it was once vital for our survival.
Movement for survival
The basics of movement directly correlates to our survival. Early humans migrated all over our planet in search of food, water and shelter. Early hunter-gatherers needed to seek out food for the tribe or their family, yet also be able to escape danger and predators. We went to the oceans, various lakes or streams to get seafood and fresh fish. We went into the forests to collect nuts, seeds, and various fruits. We created weapons to protect us and increase our chances of survival. Humans needed to be able to bend, squat, twist, reach, hinge, jump, and even climb. If you were unable to do these things then you were not much help to the tribe and community and therefore you increased your chances of dying.
Movement is not exercise
Early humans were not concerned with burning calories or growing large biceps. There is a difference between structured exercise and movement. Much of what I am talking about is just general activities of daily living. There is a term called N.E.A.T which stands for Non Exercise Activity Thermogenesis. It references the general calories burned while moving outside of structured exercise. As a movement coach much of what I recommend to my clients for homework falls into this category. I try to educate them on how to increase general activity around the home and with friends versus sitting all the time. The goal is to help them come up with a couple ideas for keeping them active and moving while at home or with friends. I remind my clients that vacuuming and doing yard work counts towards daily movement. The idea here is that it does not require a lot of extra time or effort and can be weaved into your life easily. Below is short sample list of some of these things:
Bodyweight Movement Practices
You can enhance your movement patterns by cultivating opportunities to develop a wide array of possibilities to move your body. Many people enjoy taking classes that feel as though they are stretching and strengthening their bodies. This is why calisthenics based practices like tai chi, gymnastics, parkor, ariel acro, yoga, mat pilates, and any other forms of martial arts have been popular for many years. These are great ways to get started with some form of bodyweight based movements. Essentially, this is where we see movement as a form of medicine in that often people are exposed to moving their bodies in ways that they don’t normally do on a daily basis.
Movement is nutrition for your brain (games/play)
If I haven’t seen one of my clients in a couple weeks due to travel, work or other things I always ask about their mood, energy and stress levels. If they say that stress is high or that energy levels are low, I immediately start preparing a game for them to play. I often will create an obstacle course inside the gym or clinic and instruct them on the rules of the course. This is a perfect example of how game play with adults helps to change the state of the nervous system. Moving in novel and new ways elicit the learning process of the brain and then begins a cascade of chemistry (aka feel good hormones) that are pumped out. When the client is focused on getting from one end of the room to the other without touching the turf with their shoe then they forget about the fight they had with their spouse. Games like the mirror game, red light/green light, or even musical chairs are great ways to get people moving while laughing and being curious. Doing a pull-up is a one dimensional interaction inside a rigid environment versus pretending to swing like a monkey from tree branch to tree branch on the pull up bars. The goal is to have the adult feel childlike again with curiosity in how they move their bodies and focusing on completion of a task rather than how many calories they burned or if they are doing the exercise “correctly”.
Below you'll see Coach Paige walking you through a game for strong ankles:
“Move more and sit less.”
That advice from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Preventions is timeless and true. By now you should have realized that there are just as many ways to move your body as there are reasons to do so. As a movement coach I am most concerned with how your body moves through space, interacts with the ground, and executes daily activities of living. Simply by knowing that there are many different ways to encourage someone to move as well as ways to move that are pain free- we can have a greater impact of success and overall improve outcomes. This approach to your movement IQ is based on getting to know the individual and prescribing the style, type, frequency or environment to influence the system. This is why Dr. Zanis and I believe that movement can be medicine if it is prescribed correctly and also why it is the foundation to our method to helping humans thrive.
Another game but this time for quickness!
About the Author: Coach Paige Fleischmann has always focused on the MVMNT method to help clients regain or maintain their ability to move and enjoy life. Her instructional videos are a tremendous feature and an added benefit to any client who purchases online training courses through the website. Stay tuned for our next blog coming in July!