I recently had a caffeine surge while filiming a Movement Snax video that resulted in a weird rant about moving the way we were designed to move. Really, my rant was more about not being afraid to move against the grain when it comes to all the weird movement rules we have accumulated over the years.
You know the rules I’m talking about. But just in case you don’t let me list a few of the ones I’ve run across:
Don’t squat past 90 degrees.
Don’t let your knees go beyond your toes when you squat or lunge.
Don’t lock out your elbows when you bench press.
Don’t extend your neck and look up overhead.
Don’t rotate your spine.
If you have arthritis, quit moving.
Don’t swim until 30 minutes after you eat.
Don’t pee in the dark.
Ok, that last one was just to see if you were paying attention. Anyway, we have these rules for moving that are kind of weird. And before we go any further, I’m sure these rules have come from well meaning people doing the best they could with the information they were given at the time. The problem with these rules is that they become a blanket movement gospel that is never questioned and often applied over everything.
But let us ponder for one moment. If we were not supposed to move in certain ways, why is it often so very natural for us to easily move in those ways that we shouldn’t? If we are not supposed to squat past 90 degrees, how come we are designed to? Why doesn’t our knee flexion simply stop at 90 degrees? Why do children and agile, able adults sit in a squat? Don’t they know this is bad for their knees?
If we aren’t supposed to rotate our spines, why are our vertebrae designed to rotate? Doesn’t our body know this is a horrible idea? If we are not supposed to extend our necks and look up overhead, why are there birds? You get the idea, right?
Our design seems to scream a great deal more wisdom than we often give it credit for. And, as seen in a small child, when fear is not present – when fear inspired information has not been collected – movement has no limitations. Our bodies are most free to move in every way imaginable and also unimaginable – without injury or damage.
We are not fragile. Moving won’t break us. But not moving will. If there is a rule to movement it is this: Move.
There may be times when it is best to heed guidelines about movement. There may be an injury or condition that needs to be recovered from. But the truth is, if we LISTEN, our own body will clearly tell us what our guidelines are. It may put limitations on us to keep us from moving where it would be ill advised. It may make us tight, slow, weak, or give us pain. The body knows when it is free to move and when it is not. If we listen…
I should also add that some of the above rules, and many others not listed, are often given in the “exercise” world. And MAYBE some of them should be heeded (That’s loose maybe for me). But even still, exercise should not be confused with movement or the design of movement. Exercise is exercise, often needed for a body that doesn’t move. And if there are rules in the exercise world, perhaps that is where they should stay.
I think if we open our eyes and minds and ponder how amazing our design is, we will begin to clearly see how we are designed to move. Maybe we will even move with carefree abandonment and experience the pure joy of our design. This is what we did a long time ago, by the way. We simply enjoyed movement without fear and without rules. And more often than not, we kept a sense of wonder in our eyes and a smile on our face.
There is really only one rule: Move.