Jun 28, 2020
And now, a guest article from OS Coach and author, Nick Kundrat...
Working in vs working out
The fitness world today is filled with people who are great at working out. You see this every day in the news and social media, from professional athletes who train their hearts out, to powerlifters deadlifting up to a thousand pounds, to gymnasts who can control and manipulate their bodies in remarkable ways, to the “average Joe” who justs wants to be strong and healthy. What if I told you that all of this “working-out” may be hurting your health rather than helping it? What if most of us should be focusing our time on “working-in” instead? Allow me to explain.
Most of us live extremely stressful lives. Between school, work, kids, hobbies, a social life there’s barely any time to breathe! Yet many of us make intense exercise a staple in our lives; whether it’s your morning run, an afternoon kettlebell session, or an evening high-intensity interval class. We have been conditioned as a society to think that “no pain, no gain” and working out “harder” will give us more benefits. This couldn’t be further from the truth.
Now, I love exercise, so much so that I became an exercise physiologist. Meaning I’ve extensively studied all the amazing benefits there are to moving your body. So I’m not here to tell you to stop exercising. You DEFINITELY should! Aside from making you stronger, aiding in heart health, decreasing inflammation, and more, proper exercise can put years onto your lifespan and it can keep you mobile and active as you age. Exercise can be great! But we must keep in mind that traditional exercise is a stressor. Meaning it activates your sympathetic nervous system and expends energy.
Stress can be a good thing, as it is vital for the growth and change of an organism. Lifting weights is a great example of this: Progressively adding more weight onto the bar throughout a number of weeks will add more stress to your muscles, causing them to adapt and grow larger and stronger. However, too much stress is a BAD thing and is part of what’s contributing to the exponential rise of chronic disease, illness, and pain in the world today.
This may be a hard truth to swallow but... Many of you reading this live too stressful of a life to be working out multiple times per week. Our bodies are stressed beyond belief and are seriously in need of energy and recovery, which is why many of us turn to caffeine and sugar (Which will only make the problem worse!). Sometimes, piling a tough, sweaty workout on top of a mentally exhausting day at the office, can stack up even more stress in your body, without ever giving your body or mind a chance to recover.
Luckily there’s a fix. Something Paul Chek, world-renowned neuromuscular therapist and holistic health coach coined “working in.” Unlike working out, “working in” GIVES you energy. It stimulates the recovery process, aids digestion, and activates your parasympathetic nervous system. “Working in” is gentle, slow, and calming to the mind and body. It is focused on the breath, and on slow and controlled movements. This concept couldn’t be better exemplified by the Original Strength Movement System.
Original strength (for those of you who don’t know) is a gentle movement system that utilizes the innate movement patterns we first learned as babies. Original Strength resets our bodies by tapping back into their original movement blueprint - it’s how we were MADE to move! These movements, these “resets” include breathing, nodding, rolling, rocking, crawling, and cross-crawling. Engaging in them intentionally helps slow down our stressed nervous systems and re-actives our vestibular systems, both things that traditional “working out” often lacks.
Pressing RESET is very much the opposite of performing an intense bout of high-intensity interval training. After spending a few minutes doing the RESETS, you’ll feel calm, energized, and most importantly DE-STRESSED! Which is something we all could use a bit more of. Some other great “work-in” modalities include breath work, gentle yoga, Tai Chi and Qi Gong.
Again, I’m not saying that working out doesn’t have benefits, it does. But along with working out we must also focus on “working in.” We need to give our nervous system a break from time to time, to lift it up rather than tear it down. We need to think about recovery. A great place to start is by eating quality food, getting adequate sleep and decreasing mental and emotional stress. These things are invaluable to our health and the quality of our lives.
Anyway, don’t just think about working out. Consider “working in” from time to time, if not daily. To find out more about how you can begin “working in” reach out to an OS certified coach (like myself) or find amazing resources on originalstrength.net.