July 22nd 2019 | Healthy, Happy and Not Injured: The Injury Shetland Blog Physiotherapy
I wrote an article recently for Shetland Life about my thoughts on functional movement. Here is the article in full.
In the last week of January, my movement included dancing for around 11 hours, walking a long distance holding a burning torch, doing heaps of squats and deadlifts while I painted skirtings in my house, suspension training, crawling, rolling and climbing with our kids. I challenge myself every day to see how many different ways I can get the family moving.
Crawling is an excellent way to teach kids how to move and some therapists use it for a rehabilitation exercise for back, shoulder or neck pain (I've not resorted to teaching this to anyone as a therapeutic exercise yet though). However, we tend to try and artificially simulate natural movement in many different ways these days. Our gym activities include lifting really heavy objects onto high platforms, pushing a spring loaded machine in a very strict way with proper alignment, core activation and lots of guidance on form, we have gym machines that ‘guide’ us to move in specific ways to achieve natural movement. Nature is never like this. I agree that sometime in rehabilitation these examples are necessary for rehabilitation but natural movement in different, non structured ways makes us feel good, makes many of the systems in our body work better and generally can be a lot of fun.
If you think about natural movement like our hunter gatherer fore bearers would have done, they would have done lots of walking, a little running, pushed things and pulled things. They would have lifted a few things too if they had to but lifting is much more challenging than pushing and pulling. A deadlift is the gym equivalent to lifting something heavy from the ground. This movement is often taught in the strictest of ways to avoid injury; generally a good idea. However, if from the start of the training programme we got a person lifting and moving big pile of different sized and different shaped stones they would have developed a different kind of strength and stability. Better still, doing this with no shoes on (carefully) means that everything in the body would be working hard right from the feet to the head.
Now, we can teach movements like this and often do for rehab. A good exercise to start with is a waiters bow. That starts to teach us how to use our hips again because chances are – if you sit a lot – they wont be moving the way they are supposed to. So you can choose the structured way – by doing exercises like this – or if you are not injured then go outside and move a pile of stones or something but start small and build up slowly. Remember that too much of the same thing may lead to injury and pain.
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