MOVEMENT MINUTE #16

By Coach KB

(If you are new to the POINT Gym and Kitchen blog and want to learn what the Movement Minute Challenge is all about, check out the introductory post here.)

I am so so so so so excited to write this Movement Minute (and will definitely go over a minute but it is just because I am so in love with the inspiration for this week’s Movement Minute - Katy Bowman). Basically, Katy Bowman is a total BOSS biomechanist (and overall human) and has a lot of good things to say so I will just get right into it without introduction and let her ideas speak for themselves. (PS - She has written a bunch of books that you should totally read.)

The first cool thing is really relevant as more and more articles are being written about the importance of daily movement, generally, rather than what specific movements you are doing. I hate to break it to you - good health is not just about moving a lot. Here’s an example:

An Orca whale is a beautiful, strong, majestic creatures with a proud dorsal fin on its back. At least, that is the case when it is in its natural environment, swimming freely in the ocean. It stands to reason that if an Orca can swim in the ocean it can swim in a tank and thrive because the “swimming box” is checked in its list of necessities for survival. But Orcas that live in tanks in captivity often develop a floppy dorsal fin as a disease of mechanotransduction. What zookeepers so often fail to explore beyond just that "an Orca needs to swim" are the distances, speeds, and variety of directions they swim in the oceans. Is it normal for an Orca to swim in circles in the ocean? So if the Orca in captivity is starting to lose its fitness or develop diseases of mechanotransduction like the floppy fin, would it be helpful to just tell it to swim more circles in its tank? NO! This would just increase the forces that brought on the diseases in the first place and the symptoms would likely worsen. Not swimming enough wasn’t the problem. Think about this as it relates to human movement: “Just move more!” we are told. But if we move more in the wrong ways we will end up just like the Orca. “And be sure to get your cardio, so just move faster!”... and then we end up highlighting the diseases of mechanotransduction even faster. BOOM!

The second cool thing I want to highlight that Katy talks about is the way we think about loading. We are always loaded by gravity and can additionally load ourselves by picking up a bag, a box, a bar, a ball, or a baby. Loads are the effect of applied forces. This is relevant for us because we load ourselves often at POINT. So often people think only about the load itself (the applied force - the bag, box, bar, ball, or baby). But the way we orient our bodies dictates what load occurs. I often say in class that it’s not how much you lift but how you lift (and if you focus on how you lift then you can talk about how much you lift). It’s not the weight but how you carry it.  

Lifting aside, a simple example that many of us have experience with: Knee Pain. So often knee pain is reduced to being overweight - that if that person just lost some weight then their knees wouldn’t hurt… it’s just that the load is too great for the knee joints. But there are all sorts of things that affect the load to the knee - what’s on your foot, the position of your feet, ankles, knees and hips, and your position relative to gravity. So, whether it’s 45 lbs of extra weight or a 45 lb bar, it’s not the weight, it’s how you carry it! BOOM!

So what do we do? We don’t want to be an Orca with a floppy fin and we don’t want pain in our joints… What program should we follow? We are under no illusion that POINT is the end-all, be-all for your movement life. It’s a great place to start and a great place to learn how your body moves and practice movements so you feel comfortable using them in your day-to-day lives. It’s also a great place to learn what some of your limits currently are and train to go beyond them. POINT is great for your “strength and fitness” but if you want to be truly healthy and thrive like the Orca that swims freely in its natural environment of the ocean, you need to, as much as reasonably possible in our modern life, act as you would in our natural environment of the earth. How would you move if there were no cars, no beds, no refrigerators, and no desks or countertops?  

It is imperative that we think like this. Just as the Orca jumps through hoops and swims backwards for an hour daily performance, we go to the gym for an hour a day and “perform” our movement tricks. At the end of the day, though, the Orca still goes home to a small, circular tank and we still go home to our climate-controlled houses with our convenient furniture. We can get massage and do the corrective exercises to improve knee pain or shoulder mobility that our coaches and PTs recommend but, if we are ultimately still swimming around in the same circular tank none of that will do anything. We have to make conscious choices during the day to move naturally, which brings me to this week’s Movement Minute. This week, take at least a minute per day to:

  • Get off the couch and sit on the floor.

  • Walk on the grass next to the sidewalk.

  • Move your cutting board to the floor and chop your vegetables while squatting in the kitchen.

  • Walk up and down the stairs in your house while you talk to your mom on the phone.

  • Get a squatty-potty and poop with your knees up (or save some money and use some old shoe boxes).

You can’t exercise all day long but you can certainly move all day long… and movement doesn’t require a special outfit or a shower after you are done! And these choices for movement do not take away from the other things you are trying to accomplish (watching your show, walking to your car, making dinner, talking to your mom, pooping, etc.). Re-train your brain to enjoy moving. It’s amazing how good your body will feel when you start making the conscious effort to get out of your tank.

*This Movement Minute was inspired by and some of the language was taken from Episode 20 of the Liberated Body podcast.