Remember the Tin Man in The Wizard of Oz? Stuck in one position for who knows how long until Dorothy and the Scarecrow came along and oiled his joints so he could move again. I bet most of us have felt like the Tin Man from time to time, right? Maybe after sitting for a long time while traveling or watching a long movie. And whereas the Tin Man needed his oil can to keep moving, humans need MOVEMENT to keep moving.
Purposeful movement develops early in life as we begin reacting to and interacting with our environment. We learn to reach, roll, sit up, crawl, stand, walk, run in a typical progression. We learn to roll because we’ve developed enough strength and control to lift our head and move our arms as we try to reach for interesting objects. We learn to sit because all that rolling helps us build further neck and trunk control so we can hold ourselves upright and use both hands at the same time. And motor development continues until we have refined movement and mastery of all the required motor skills for being human. We can move easily and freely in all planes of motion.
Until we can’t. Until we find we’ve “rusted” into certain patterns and positions in adulthood.
Human bodies are built for movement. A lot of movement. But it’s becoming common for people to move less throughout their day. As a result, our fascial tissues start adapting to our lack of movement and our habitual postures. What we spend most of our time doing, slowly remodels our fascia. The Tin Man rusted quickly, but it takes months and years for our tissues to adapt to limited movement. It’s such a slow progression, we often don’t notice it occurring.
It’s not a normal part of aging to become really stiff and achy. It’s true that our tissues become less supple with age, but limited mobility occurs more because of the many ways we stop using our bodies. As an example, you may keep regularly used items on the shelves where they’re easy to reach because it’s more convenient. Because you don’t reach fully from tip-toes to finger tips or squat down low, you’re limiting your movement options and setting yourself up for trouble later on.
My point is this: comfort and convenience are not always good for your health. If we constantly seek comfort and convenience, less is demanded of our bodies, and in turn, movement opportunities are reduced.
And slowly you start to rust.
However, when you embrace movement and postures that are a bit outside your comfort zone, you’ll be building a more mobile and resilient body!
So, what’s the best way to invite more movement into your life that will lead to long-term changes?
Get on the floor. It’s the most effective means for restoring foundational movements and resting postures that have gone missing. You’ll be building strength and gaining mobility every time you get up and down from the floor. You’ll experience less stiffness as mobility improves through changing positions. And by exploring a few developmental movement experiences (like the ones in the video below) you’ll be improving your coordination and body-awareness so movement feels more effortless.
Take a step towards restoring and refining movement by following along with this short video that will take you through some easy movement progressions on the floor. These foundational moves come from a course I attended last month at Primal Movement WORKS! The team there has put together a systematic, whole-body movement approach based on and influenced by motor development principles and the work and research of many experts in the field of human movement. The movement experiences are designed to identify and correct faulty movement patterns, leading to more balance and connection through your body. I absolutely love this movement system!
Vary Your Resting Postures
Get reacquainted with the floor by spending time there when you’re watching TV or reading or whatever else you typically might do while sitting on the sofa. These photos show a few of my go-to resting postures, but there’s no right or wrong position as long as you don’t stay static for too long.
Getting used to being on the floor will require an adjustment period for your body. Aim to spend 5 to 10 minutes a day on the floor for the first few weeks and then start to extend your time. Cushions, pillows, folded blankets make great props to help you find some ease. Your body will eventually adjust to new positions as you consistently practice rebuilding your relationship with the floor. Avoid finding that one most comfy position and only using that; but being uncomfortable to the point of pain is not the goal either. The key is to keep changing positions – your body will let you know when it’s time to shift.
Remember, the intent is to move your fascial system so that tissue remodeling occurs in healthy and varied patterns.
As always, please listen to your body. Don’t ever force into challenging postures; you won’t progress faster, it will actually slow improvement because your nervous system will fight to protect you.
If you do have a specific injury or medical condition, resetting your fascial tissues may require more time. Please consult with a medical or movement professional before starting any new movement program.
Get in touch with any questions or please share your comments below.