5 Movement Crimes You Have Committed (Possibly in the Last 10 Seconds!)
Resting ‘Trying Hard Face’
Watch Usain Bolt sprint, watch Floyd Mayweather box. What do they have in common (other than being unbelievably awesome)?? They make it look easy! If you clench your jaw and screw up your face every time you exercise, firstly you are wasting energy and moving less efficiently and secondly you are sending a signal to the rest of your body that you are in ‘fight or flight’ mode. You’ll feel more stressed by your activity, whether it’s gardening, running a marathon or dead-lifting 200kg because your subconscious will interpret those signals as more effort. Next time you are doing an activity that feels hard, relax your neck, jaw, tongue and the muscles around your eyes (in that order if it helps) and notice how much easier the activity feels.
Walking like a Duck
Washing up? Cleaning your teeth? Look down. If your toes are pointing outwards, you have been demoted from human to duck. Since ducks don’t have hips, it’s ok to stand and walk with their flipper toes pointed outwards, but as a human we need our toes pointed forwards to stabilise through our hip joints and all important gluteal/bum muscles. If you walk like this, same issue. If you run like this then shoot yourself now (or maybe come to see us at The Running School)
Squat or Not?
I’ll answer that for you. Squat. If you can’t, learn how before it’s too late. We are all designed to move in this pattern. Don’t believe me? Watch this video of Bushmen in Africa squatting beautifully and with no effort at all.
If you can’t perform this simple movement you’ll be constantly putting pressure through your lower back, which will be moving miles too much to compensate for the lack of movement in the hips. Use every time you have to bend down to pick something up, put the washing in the machine, get on and off the toilet as an opportunity to practice squatting with a good pattern. Your back will thank you.
So a spine can either be neutral (think good alignment) or it can be a noodle, with no stability at all and bendy bits all over the place. If you are sitting down, the easiest way to go from noodle to neutral is a) make sure your sit bones are connected to the chair (sit bones for sitting, bum for looking at), b) relaxing your shoulders back and out so they rest behind your chest, c) chin down, back of the neck long.
We have 2 sets of muscles we can use to breathe. One set are the muscles around our collar bones and upper rib cage. Evolutionarily speaking, these are designed for getting air in super quick in stress situations, such as running away from a tyrannosaurus in the jungle. The others are our diaphragm and muscles around our lower rib cage. These are our chilled out muscles for easy breathing (think rest and digest as opposed to fight or flight). If you work from a desk or drive long distances, feel constantly stressed or suffer from neck pain there’s a good chance you’re using your panic breathing too much, and your chillax muscles not enough. A simple test is to take a deep, normal breath in and watch your collarbones in the mirror. If they immediately fly upwards, you could benefit from improving your breathing pattern. Try to keep your collarbones still as you breathe and imagine filling up your abdomen with air in 3 dimensions (so out to the sides as well as forwards and backwards).