Redefining the Norm

movementMention to anyone older than you, regardless the age, about how stiff you feel and they will undoubtedly say, “Wait till you’re my age.” My father has used this adage my whole life.

It has become the norm to accept decreased mobility as we age. True, our muscles and joints lose elasticity through the years, but it seems to be happening earlier in life with each generation. Society’s increased sedentary lifestyles are mostly to blame. As we spend more time sitting we get better at sitting, which leads to being less mobile at anything else.

An average day for many Canadians looks like this: wake up, perhaps sit and eat breakfast, if breakfast is eaten at all, jump in the car to drive to work and then sit for the better part of 8-10 hours. Back into the car for the commute home, sit, eat some more. After dinner, sit, and binge on Netflix.

Our bodies and minds develop together in order to solve movement-related problems and always have. “How do I catch that antelope to eat? I run after it with a poky thing.” Our bodies are designed to move in as many patterns as possible, and to repeat them often enough that we become more efficient at those patterns.

If we don’t move in different ways, we can become stiff as we begin to lose the sliding surfaces between the layers of connective tissue. This lack of fluidity of movement can make you more likely to get injured when life decides to throw a wrench at you when you least expect it. These wrenches can take the form of sudden slips and falls, trying a new sport, or even throwing a leg over your first motorcycle as you’re realizing a life long dream to get a class 6 license.

We all should move more, and that movement needs to be of a high enough quality to keep us from wearing down. What does “high quality” movement mean? Historically, the fitness industry has been driven by people wanting to look better rather than wanting to move well. This can lead to building on top of dysfunction by pushing through poor form, choosing weights that are too heavy, or taking thousands of steps with faulty mechanics in your first half marathon at 50. The truth is that just moving the way a human should happens to create good results. Focusing on working hard to look good without also concentrating on movement quality and diversity can result in injury or a lack of desired results.

Fortunately the industry is catching up, and movement-based approaches to training are increasing. We, as coaches seek out dysfunction, work to resolve it, and then build that into better movement quality. Hopefully everyone will start to move, move better, and move more.

For some tips, check out Strongside Conditioning Gym’s YouTube channel, where they post some quick tips and techniques. Strongside Conditioning Gym is located on Front Street in New West, and you can find them on Twitter and Facebook as well.