San Diego Baby Boomers

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The pitfalls of protected movement


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Recently I was working with a middle-aged gentleman who if you saw him move you would assume that everyday movements were not a challenge for him. In general, you would be correct. Like all of us, he had areas of tightness that could be addressed with everyday stretching or practicing more optimal posture. He mentioned that he had fallen in the past while hiking and was very apprehensive about walking downhill.

I was in the rear of a hike and saw how his body language and posture changed pretty drastically when the trail went downhill or downstairs. The steps become shorter. He lowered himself closer to the ground by bending his knees. His shoulders raised. He was not exactly shuffling but he was not picking his feet up as high off of the ground.

What if he encountered a root or something raised on the trail? Would he be able to raise his foot high enough so he did not trip? Also his base of support became narrower. The way he was moving of course in his mind was safer. However, from an outside view, he was increasing his chances of falling again.

I get it. After any of us fall of any age in the back of our minds, we don’t want it to happen again. We are afraid of it happening again. What would I suggest in this situation? First off it is obvious that we should applaud his want to not stop hiking. That is important. He was wearing just tennis shoes. Changing to better shoes so there is more traction and more confidence can be an easy fix. That in itself could be the game-changer. After the new shoes are on then it would be practicing better breathing (high shoulders means that it was not happening) would be a good step.

Let’s move on from that story. In general ways of protecting often involve pain. Knee injury, shoulder impingement or hip issues are all common areas. Sometimes the pain is gone but it is the fear of hurting it again.

Strength training can be one of the ingredients that your body needs. It does not and probably should not be a ridiculous amount of weight. Start where you are, then move from there. There are always options for a movement. If you continue to protect and not find ways to move better or with more confidence, it can be a recipe for a re-injury. It may take time to not hesitate. It will take patience with the process. It may take a while to really believe that your knee is getting better. However, starting even in small steps can add up over time.  On the other hand, I have spoken with people that claim that they can only pick up a 5lb dumbbell but they lift groceries and put items up in the plane with no issue. There it is a lack of connection between the gym and everyday life. Protecting in an environment (the gym etc.) where you have the opportunity to practice better movement that can help you move better in life can hold you back.

Let me leave you with one comparison of two pictures below that visually shows a movement in everyday life to an exercise in the gym.

Screen Shot 2019-08-30 at 4.39.32 PM

The woman on the left probably is calling this “picking up a plant” the woman on the right calls this a squat.

You say potato….I say… Exactly 🙂

Find ways to move through that protected movement so you can move with more confidence!

 

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The Baby Boomers Blueprint To Better Movement – Vol 1


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Your generation is very diverse however in between all of the different lifestyles and priorities there is one idea, in particular, you intersect on. That point is the ambition to do what you want to do when you want to do it. Largely, the first thing that comes to mind are the things you enjoy doing. Next are the things that you need to do in your life and everyday life. However your priorities fall, better movement plays a powerful role in doing what you want to do when you want to do it.

Here are some things to keep in mind to give you some structure.

Avoid Protecting

Pain sucks. I get it. An injury is not fun either. We remember when we were injured especially if it greatly impeded our everyday life. Perhaps after we have healed that episode is imprinted in our head. You may move a bit differently. You may move in ways to avoid that injury that happened. It can include moving more within our range of movement, thus moving less in ways to protect something like our backs. Possibly this is affecting your breathing and you are holding your breath more. You may also be tighter in some areas and not even aware of it because you are engaging certain muscles for longer than you used to do.

Obviously, there is a mental and physical part of the pain. They are intertwined very well.

But there has to be room for movement. There needs to be room to discover ways to improve things like your strength, stability or become more aware of how you are compensating in your movements. Making room for movement does not mean throwing caution to the wind, ignoring pain or acting like you never were injured in the first place. Making room instead includes learning how you can reduce the chances of it happening again through ways of movement or breathing. Making room includes variations like an assisted squat instead of a bodyweight squat. Making room can also include seeking out qualified professionals that can help you. You don’t have to do this alone.

Step Into Strength

Physical strength is used in our daily life. This does not diminish as we get older. Your priorities may have changed in regards to your physical stature but your body still thrives from strength. Leg strength is one of the indicators of your mortality rate. If you do walk that is great. However, strength training builds that foundation for a lower extremity that can take on the terrain of various levels and softness. Building strength means fighting some sort of resistance. Things like claiming that you don’t squats, deadlifts or lunges in real life leads to avoiding the exercises you need to be doing. You do variations of all three exercises in your daily life including pulling, pressing and twisting. Reaching for the lightest weight possible does not translate to lifting, carrying and placing a heavy bag of groceries on the ground.

Stay On Balance

Balance is not a physical attribute. Balance is not a measurable thing like height and weight. It may not be the sexiest like impressive feats of strength or some flexible yoga pose. However, the ability to have the balance to move throughout your life is easy to take for granted. As you move…think of balance is a program running in the background. It runs in the background when you are walking down the street, mounting stairs or picking something up off the floor. That program is running when an obstacle is in your way or when you are carrying the groceries inside.  Don’t wait until the warning signs come to the forefront of balance that has eroded. Remember – your life involves movement. When you do work to challenge and improve your balance incorporate movement.

Train For What You Enjoy

Your life involves movement. Especially when it comes to the things we enjoy doing, we want to be able to move well. You don’t need to be some daredevil to justify practice so you can move better. It should be pretty straightforward – you enjoy golf, swimming, running or hiking? Why not learn how to be stronger, more agile confident and just plain better at those things?  Even if activities like that are not on your list of things to do – again life involves movement. Your life involves various strength exercise, things that take core strength, movements that demand balance and agility.  That joy of movement is what makes things enjoyable and memorable.

Get Out Of Your Head

I don’t know who came up with the quote but loosely paraphrased – the gains largely happen on the days that you don’t want to exercise. When we feel like rocky it is easy to exercise however you see fit. It is those days when it is a bad week, you are not feeling strong or something is just off. Also, don’t expect every time you move to be some monumental step of progress. Often we are practicing a movement and working to perform at it better. We all have different lengths to achieve the goal of a better movement. Lastly, setbacks happen to the best of us and listening to your body is ever so key as we get older.

Sometimes the truth is that you may not be able to do some things physically like you used to do. That does not mean you should give up on learning other ways to move. If you keep on drawing lines in the sand as to what you will not do or try soon you are stuck in a small box of movement. That restriction does not bode well for a quality of life that allows you to do what you want to do – when you want to do it.

Also striving for perfection when it comes to exercise in its various forms can be problematic. Striving to move better and moving towards a goal of moving better than yesterday is a better way to think about exercise. This does not mean you are taking things easy. It just means that moving better is a process. We all have different ways of learning and the rates of which we progress.

Volume Is Not The Holy Grail

Increasing volume in ways like spending more hours exercising, adding more weight or increasing reps is not necessarily the path that leads to a better quality of life. So what if you are walking or jogging for an hour? Is it a leisurely pace and you are wondering why you are not seeing an increase in your cardiovascular health? So what are ways to tweak a workout other than volume?

Four ways to change up the way you move are Time, Intensity, Duration or Variation.

Time

Using the running example, time can be a factor. How far can you get in 20 minutes?

Intensity

The question posed above can also apply to intensity because you are picking up the intensity of the run. Also, you could do some sort of intervals. Let’s say 800 you go at “race pace” and then the next 800 you back off and go slower. You do this for 3 miles.

Duration

Yes, this is volume here. You run for an hour. Of course generally, in this instance, you will not be pushing the pace. You are focused on staying steady and a pace you can stick to. However don’t get comfortable. After you are doing well then it is time to see if you can cover more distance.

Variation

This could be cross training or other ways of running. Maybe you are doing some agility drills like high knees, quick backpedaling or lateral shuffles. All of these and more contribute to you being a more agile and body aware runner.

Do What You Know You Should Be Doing

There are some things that we should be doing that don’t involve a doctor’s prescription, recipe or a how-to manual.  Don’t play dumb. We all are guilty of it. Nobody is good at everything.

Often we gravitate towards some new trend, new diet or fast lane to a healthier us. The boring stuff gets left on the curb. Don’t let that boring stuff get left behind in your routines. Need an example? I am sure you have heard all of the statistics about how much percentage of our bodies are water and the importance of hydration. Yet how many excuses have you given as to why you are not drinking enough water?

  1. It is boring.
  2. It does not taste like much.
  3. I keep forgetting.
  4. There is water in my coffee (So basically, I get enough water).
  5. I don’t like the way it tastes.
  6. I know I should but…

Drink your water, come on. Find what works for you whether it be a bigger water bottle, some sort of routine or a ribbon tied around your wrist. Dehydration is a road that can lead to bad compensations and results.

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