For many people, the widespread closure of gyms during the coronavirus pandemic eliminated opportunities for regular movement from day-to-day routines.
Even if you kept up with your workout schedule during lockdown or if you've been able to return to the gym, you may still experience hours at a time where you're on the couch or in Zoom calls where your body is completely static.
In a recent video on The Ready State YouTube channel, CrossFit trainer and mobility coach Dr. Kelly Starrett demonstrated how spending more time exploring different movements can help to restore some of our "native" range of motion and physical capabilities, as well as help to ease discomfort and pain.
Squatting, for example, is a great way to accumulate time under tension without the need for any equipment, and the 10-minute squat has become a popular way of challenging the body.
Starrett reasons that for a lengthy period of our history, human beings would have spent the majority of their time sitting on the ground. "One of the ways we can begin to tune the body is by spending some time in these grounded positions," he says.
"When we're in the bottom position of this end-range squat, what we're telling our brains is 'these are positions and shapes that we value... Being able to long sit, side sit, 90-90, is all part of a movement language that has been lost, but is easy to start to restore."
When assuming the squat, Starrett ensures his knees are in a stable, flexed position, his hips are flexed to end range, and his back is relaxed. "In order to have a normal, healthy lumbar spine, you've got to expose it to flexion and extension," he says.
Squatting with the feet facing straight forward can help to generate more force and create a higher function of stability through the pelvis and femur. And as everything in the body is connected, Starrett argues that what we do with our legs and pelvis can have a hugely beneficial impact on our backs, which is one of the areas of the body with the most commonly reported complaint.
"The idea here is, what is it a human being should be able to do, and why aren't we capable of doing that? The current environment isn't really conducive to keeping the human body intact and whole," he says. "One way to do that is work on spending more time in the bottom position. Is there something magic about 10 minutes? Maybe. But maybe for you it's nine minutes."
We know what our bodies need when it comes to sleep, hydration and nutrition, and Starrett sees this as the next step. "Movement is a vital sign," he says. "It's also a foundation of the human experience."
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