In today's post, I want to offer a simple concept. If anybody has seen the movie "40 Year Old Virgin," there is a hysterical scene where Steve Carell poses a question, "Is it true that if you don't use it, you lose it?" LOLZ.
By now you realize that I have an affection for stupid comedy movies and a childish sense of humor. Read on and disregard this about me.
Basically, that question doesn't necessarily have a black and white answer and can mean a lot of things. Not only is it funny in the context he was using it (hopefully you've seen the movie), but in terms of exercise it makes a ton of sense.
Movement in general, won't be very dynamic if you don't practice it. You create better movement quality by ... moving. Especially if you are doing it the right way. If not, you are just feeding the problem. Try not to sit around and create static patterns for your body to get used to. This is where poor posture, breathing dysfunction, and illness come in to play.
Think about your favorite chair, or for that matter, where you spend most of your time. If you spend a few hours a day there, chances are that you are going to have some adaptation coming with it. Humans are creatures of habit, and the body is going to get good at whatever position you are in most. This is absolutely the reason desk workers tend to have a lot of the same postural and mobility issues. Knowing your tendencies is vital to improving your current state.
So here's how you can start to change all of this:
1. Get up, every hour.
Think of this as like a total body reset. Walk around, take some big deep breaths, and try to get yourself back to where you started the day. Maybe even throw in some basic mobility drills to scare away your coworkers.
2. Drink more water.
This is like:
Muscles and the fascia that bind them together are mostly comprised of water. So if you've had 2 cups of coffee at the desk and no water to rehydrate yourself during the day, your movement could be affected. Now, the body will adjust in the short term because it's wicked awesome at that, but imagine doing this to your body day in and day out. Consistent dehydration will only lead you to sub-optimal health and gluey (scientific word) muscles and joints. Eventually, something has to give. A good rule of thumb is 1 cup every hour you are awake, which usually works out to about 2-3L per day.
3. Get uncomfortable.
Try to find new ways to sit and stand. For me, I'm on my feet for the majority of the day. I've noticed and have been told that us personal trainers usually will be standing on one hip or the other. This can cause some issues. The solution is to simply always be moving. Up, down, one knee, two knees, sitting, etc.
For the people that sit most of the day, simply try to get yourself out of the position you like most, and stay in it for a few minutes. Maybe it's just sitting up straight or keeping two feet on the ground. You'll notice how hard it is, and that your body will try to revert back to what its used to if you don't keep tabs on it. Try it out for yourself.
4. Emphasize the opposites.
When you're training, focus the most on what you need to work on. The classic example would be Upper Back Strength and Thoracic Mobility for those desk workers. Place emphasis here before you go to town on Chest and Tri day. For runners and cyclists, get lateral. For people that stand all day, do some soft tissue work on the lower legs.
These are a couple examples, but you get the point. This will help with injury prevention and overall functionality. If you are unsure about where to start, hire somebody like me to take the guesswork out of it. If can't afford it, pick up a book or check out this cool website called YouTube. There is a lot of free information out there, you just have to be willing to look for it. Your body will thank you.
5. Do something active that you enjoy.
I want to place a lot of importance on the word "enjoy." The reason I say this is because you need to be invested in something to put real effort into it. You will be more apt to push yourself and get yourself into new positions and situations. One of my biggest pet peeves is when somebody tells me they hate doing a certain activity.
Okay. Sweet. Don't do it. Provided you've actually made a solid effort to try it.
For me- Last year I got into mountain biking. It's been really challenging to get better at, but that's what keeps me coming back. I like spending the time, sweat, and energy trying to learn a new skill. It forces me to get uncomfortable, and that's how you develop movement. Being invested gets your body to adapt quicker because you are more willing to follow through with the activity.
Wrap It Up Already
So, how on earth did I start with some shameful humor and end here?
Look at at your day-to-day activities and try to focus on where you having been "moving." Try to focus on some weaknesses and use the tips above to help get your body out of it's comfort zone. Whether it's posture, mobility, strength, or just general athleticism- you need to work on it to get better at it. That way, you can still "move it" when you want to.