Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Daily Movement Practices

Yesterday I blogged about meditation, a practice that I recognize would benefit me greatly if I did it more often than sporadically. Today, I would like to add a few more things that I do do, and wish I did even more often.

You've probably heard by now that, as a society, our health is basically screwed because of all the routine practices we have. Spend most of your life commuting in a car? You're going to die young. Sit at a desk all day long? You're going to die young and fat. Probably with diabetes and cancer. Yeah, yeah, I'm exaggerating, but I'm sure you've heard all about it too. Even if you get yourself some kind of awesome standing desk (like I have), it turns out you're still up a creek, because it's not just sitting that's bad for you, it's not moving around. And the research is pointing toward it being the case that just going and exercising isn't enough to make up for all the movement you're not doing throughout any given day.

Anyway, I've been trying to incorporate more movement and mobility work into my everyday activities at work. What I'm going for here is not to add another workout to my week; the point is to have some little things that I can add, that just take a minute or two here and there, but that add up to big improvements in flexibility, strength, what have you.

One of the most basic things I've added is the deep squat. I just hang out there for a while. Not surprisingly, this is easier to do on Sundays--the day before my workout that includes back squats--than it is on Monday (or Tuesday).

I started doing deep squats even before I saw this article, and since it recommended squats along with three other movements, I was pretty sure it was legit. So to squats I added glute contraction, a hamstring stretch, and something called the crucifix stretch, which is almost as much fun as it sounds (good for the chest, shoulders, and back, anyway).

For a while, I was really into Kelly Starrett's Mobility WOD (Workout of the Day). I started with episode 1 and for a while there I was doing every stretch in the first four or five daily, but in retrospect that probably wasn't sustainable. I did feel pretty good when I was doing it, though.

The real magic that I've found, though, is something called shoulder dislocates. Which sounds almost as good as a crucifix stretch, I know, but it's done great things for me. Specifically, the last couple years, I've had elbow pain when I play tennis. So you might think it's some kind of repetitive stress thing, like, you know, "tennis elbow," but it turned out, as I tracked this problem to its source, the source was my shoulder. You see, a couple years ago I injured my right shoulder in the weight room. What stupid thing I was attempting to do isn't important, but between the injury and the time off to recover, I lost a good deal of mobility in my shoulder without realizing it. Then when I played tennis, to compensate for poor shoulder mobility, I would--unknowingly--put my elbow in a compromised position. I started doing shoulder dislocates regularly, improved shoulder mobility, and the elbow pain disappeared. Cue the choirs of angels.

I really liked the idea of hanging as being a good thing. For that matter, I like the idea of doing chin-ups or pull-ups or what-have-you more or less every day. Outside of the gym, however, my options are limited. Living in an old farmhouse, we literally have no doors that will fit a standard pull-up bar. My office door at work is perfect for a pull-up bar, but... I feel kind of awkward doing chin-ups in my jacket and tie any time anyone walks into the building. And it's pretty much a guaranteed thing that as soon as I hang up the bar and start to hang or do chin-ups, someone's coming into the building, even if it's been dead quiet for the previous hour.

But then, all of these are things that I feel like I could/should/would do more of, otherwise they wouldn't have made this blog post, so in that regard there's nothing special about hanging or chin-ups.

What do you think, gentle readers? Do any of these things appeal to you? Are there little things that you'd like to put into practice in your own life?

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