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).