Whether it's hip pain or pain in some other area of the body, the worst thing to do is just try to get rid of the pain. An injection, a pill, an on orthopoedic device or artificial support... these are not solutions. They are temporary comforts that do not address the root problem at all and often make it worse. Unfortunately, that is the approach most people take.
Pain is there for a reason. It's not wise to try to get rid of it without addressing the root problem. If something hurts simply from doing what it's supposed to do - for example, your hip hurts to sit, your knee hurts to walk or run, your back hurts to bend over or twist, your shoulder hurts to lift something over your head, etc - then you've somehow created a disability for yourself in the way you live.
If you need a crutch just to walk, that's labelled as a disability. Similarly, if you need a chair just to sit comfortably, that's definitely a disability! If someone is born with a disability, that's unfortunate - it's obviously not their fault. But if you make yourself disabled because you live haphazardly or carelessly, that's the real disaster.
To avoid such disasters, you can move and manage your body intentionally, not accidentally. That is what Skillz Movement is about. Everyone has to move, everyone has been moving since birth, but still so many people have so many issues with basic, pain-free movement in their everyday lives. That is the reality. The body needs some work. It needs some attention. If you live haphazardly and unconsciously, sitting for 6 hours per day in an office or in school, then going to a gym to exercise your body into a painful concrete block (unintentionally) in the name of 'fitness', then expect pain.
The human body is a fantastic piece of equipment. But it's not fool-proof. The geometry of the body has to be maintained in order for it to function smoothly. So thank your pain for reminding you that you are not living properly. Because once the body is treated with reverence and used properly, it works beautifully and lasts a lifetime.
Contrary to common belief, sleep is not a requirement for the body. Rest is what the body needs. Sleep is just one form of rest. The less restful the body is while you’re awake, the more it will call for sleep.
Rest means being at ease. There’s a lot of focus on improving the quality of sleep, but that is not necessary and it’s not the right approach. You can’t truly improve the quality of sleep if you don’t improve the quality of your wakefulness. The focus should be on becoming more restful, or more at ease, while awake.
Take the way you move, for example. Are you at ease, do you move easily? A lot of people aren’t even at ease while sitting. When this is true, standing won’t be easy, walking won’t be easy, running certainly won’t be easy, movement and life in general will be more stressful than necesssry.
If you can engineer your body and mind to function with a certain level of ease, you’ll be more restful. When you’re more restful, sleep won’t be an issue and you’ll require less of it. While you’re alive, it’s time to be awake! There will be plenty of time to sleep when you’re dead! So for now, LIVE dynamically in peace, restfully.
Note: Regular use of nervous stimulants like coffee will decrease restfulness in the body and increase sleep quota in the long term by draining energy. The short-term, temporary effect is a trick. Don’t be fooled.
Why do we tend to think of good movement as the ability to ‘control’ our body? I think the term ‘body control’ is very misleading. It implies that you can control something that in reality you cannot. The only way to truly control something is to stop it or kill it. So trying to control your body will lead to less and less movement. Your body wants to be liberated, not controlled.
If I had to describe one key quality of someone who is skilled at movement, any movement, it would be the ability to fall without fear. Good movement looks effortles because it is, relatively speaking. It’s when you get in the way, or try to do too much, that you move poorly and make it more difficult. This 'doing too much' comes from fear and excess tension. You have to get out of the way. Let gravity work for you. Develop, naturally, the strength and resilience to support your movement, and learn to relax and let yourself move.
Tennis balls, footballs, basketballs, lacrosse balls, ping pong balls, soccer balls... they all offer plenty of opportunity for play and development in an infinite number of ways. Hand-eye coordination, peripheral vision, depth perception, timing, rhythm, accuracy, precision, ‘feel’... I think if you’re not playing at least some kind of game with some kind of ball on a regular basis you’re missing something important. And if you’re one of those people that say “oh I was never good at sports” or “I’m not very coordinated that way” then you’re missing the point. Being good is not the point. Good is relative anyway. Play, develop, and enjoy the process and the many, many benefits.
You can use the few examples shown in the video to try and if you have some cool, fun, challenging games to share then I’d love to hear about it.
If there was a Fitness 101 list of basic exercises, push-ups would definitely be on the list. Everybody knows what a push-up is, right? It’s such a simplistic exercise. How many people can actually do a good one these days is another matter entirely, but that’s not the point of this article.
The point of this brief article is to share what, in my opinion, is the best way to develop the strength to do a push-up if you cannot right now. A popular method I’ve seen is having people drop to their knees and do what is sometimes (inappropriately) referred to as ‘girl pushups’. First of all, I’ve seen females do push-ups far better than males on many occasions, so let’s drop that gender-biased nonsense. Secondly, the ‘knee push-up’ method rarely ever carries over to developing the full body push-up properly. There’s a better way.
The simple method I use to help people develop push-up strength is descending elevated push-ups. The concept is simple. Maintain the same body position as a full push-up, but elevate your hands to a point where you’re able to do the movement with proper form. The easiest variation would be completely vertical, against a wall. Most people can start somewhere around hip height, like using the back of a park bench or the top of an office desk.
Stay at a level until you can perform a few sets of 10-15 reps with excellent form and full range of motion, then place your hands on a lower surface to increase the challenge. Continue this way until you’re on the floor banging out push-ups with ease like a pro. Do a focused session of 3-5 sets every 1-3 days (or as long as it takes for any major soreness to subside).
You can accelerate your progress by ‘greasing the groove’ with a quick lower intensity set (do no more than half of your maximum reps) every couple hours throughout each day. This is like constantly reminding your nervous system that you want to be able to do this, without fatiguing it to the point of diminishing returns. It usually works well in conjunction with your less frequent, higher volume training sessions.
I should mention that this advice assumes you meet the other necessary requirements for good push-ups. For example, wrist mobility and scapular mobility are common limitations that sometimes require specific supplemental work.
If you’re already able to perform full push-ups with ease, try your hand at the alternating one-fist push-ups shown in the video below. Chest to the ground! No cheating. Half range of motion is for the delusional ego-driven folks who only want to pretend to be strong.
It’s often said that exercise is important for health. I think play is far more important for health than exercise. Exercise can be playful, but it’s usually not when you observe how most people exercise.
Play, in my opinion, does more for both physical and mental health. It’s all in how you approach what you’re doing. Work can be play if you approach it with the right attitude. Life itself is play - it’s all a game!
Instead of torturing yourself with exercise that you have to drag yourself to do, do something playful that involves really using your body. Sports are an option but it’s definitely not the only option.
Your ability and willingness to play says a lot about you. There’s a saying that you can tell more about a person in one hour of play than in a year of conversation. It’s true! For fun, try the juggling variation demonstrated in the video below. Come up with your own variations too. Be creative. Move and play. Exercise is for ‘old’ people. Old is an attitude, not a number. Play... it’s the essence of youth.
When you’re busy thinking about what you assume you should be doing in order to move this way or that way, which muscles need to be activated, etc., you’re only getting in the way of your body. If you want to develop your actual movement capabilities rather than just your philosophies about movement, then focus your attention on the SENSATION of movement and the right intention.
To stand up from a squat, for example, there’s no need to try and activate your glutes. Simply stand up with ferocious intent and feel the sensation of standing up naturally. You do not govern your muscles. Let them work naturally. An infant doesn’t learn to walk by receiving mechanical instructions and intellectual cues from an expert walking teacher. The only true teachers are gravity and your own body sensations - just don’t override them with excessive thoughts.
A good teacher/coach can help you get more in tune with your body and the sensations of movement by exposing you to tasks/situations that pose a variety of movement challenges for you to (re)learn natural movement through a safe process of natural progression and development, while also developing a superior level of strength and resilience to support movement. A trainer who dictates simplistic exercises and gives you wrong mechanical performance cues is robbing you of proper and natural development and messing you up. It’s more of an art than a science. It’s like dancing. You can be taught choreography, but you cannot be taught how to dance... you must learn and feel it for yourself!
People tend to think big muscles means big strength. In reality it’s not necessarily the case at all. You can build very big muscles that are basically useless. Not only useless, but actually detrimental to your ability to move. The TYPE of muscle you have makes all the difference.
I’m not referring to muscle type as in slow twitch vs. fast twitch vs. super fibres or other names that have been invented for various muscle types. I’m just referring to muscle type as in efficient vs. inefficient - in other words, does your muscle development support and allow your movement to happen naturally and easily or does it get in the way.
Muscle building just for the sake of a particular aesthetic is one thing. Let’s leave that aside for now. In the context of movement, athleticism, performance, fluidity, coordination, agility, etc... you should focus on movement development and not muscle development. There is a significant difference. The typical machines found in gyms and exercises targeting muscles as opposed to patterns might develop your muscles, but they won’t do much to develop your movement and may in fact severely hamper your movement.
Lastly, muscle and movement are definitely not mutually exclusive. On the contrary, someone with good movement develment will have a more balanced, natural, athletic look, usually with well-defined muscles and a flexible, elastic type of strength that provides superior resilience.
Better movement = better muscle. But bigger muscles does not mean good movement.
Welcome to the first in an ongoing series of mini-blogs/articles presented by Skillz Movement. This platform will replace our social media presence, so please be sure to check here regularly if you're interested in staying connected, learning about various topics related to movement/health/fitness, and checking out our photos/videos.
Today's quick topic is about running on ice. Why ice? It's a good way to evaluate the efficiency of your running technique. Since ice is slippery, it provides little room for wasted movements and inefficient technique when running. The feedback is instant... if you run poorly, you slip and/or fall.
While I don't necessarily recommend ice-running as a regular practice (although it could be if you enjoy it and are adequately prepared), it's a fun and effective way to check whether you're wasting efforts and putting unnecessary stress on your body when you run on other more forgiving surfaces.
If you're going to try this out, use sense and please be careful. For help with your running technique and development, email firstname.lastname@example.org to inquire about remote Individualized Programming (anywhere) or in-person Private Training (Guelph and surrounding area).