Learning the fundamental principals of how your body operates will give you an advantage to living a long a healthy life. Being independent, active, flexible, and strong should be goals for all of us. If you take a few steps back and observe physical activity you see patterns of movements. There are “actions” that the body uses over and over to produce successful tasks. Here’s a review of the primary ones.
Gait: How we get around sets the stage for all activities. This is how we transport items, our selves, and complete tasks. Walking, jogging, running, and all forms of self transportation fall under this category. Our brains, hearts, lungs, and musculoskeletal system all need regular motion to survive and thrive. Get your 10,000 steps in every day. If you like to play certain sports, think about whats involved for your gait. Think about speed changes and how long you will be on your feet for. If you need to quickly change directions while on your feet, you can practice that too.
Pushing: Think of a lineman in football or a wheel barrow full of dirt. Overhead shoulder presses or pushups. Our pushing, or pressing, action is fundamentally important to maintaining healthy muscles and bones. If you’re on your feet and pushing something, you are working every muscle in your body. Some of them produce the movement while some of them control and slow down the movement. Pushing can be done with one hand, both hands, or even a shoulder.
Pulling: Think dragging a pile of leaves, yanking a basketball out of someones hands, or rowing a boat. Ripping out weeds or cranking through a tennis backhand are also great examples. Pulling actions are essential to a strong core. Different angles and combinations are everywhere in sports and activities. Think of anything you have to reach for and gather towards your body. Make it part of your regular routine.
Lunging: Getting one foot in front of the other and effectively loading both sides of your pelvis is the key here. Lunges of all types are involved in every sport and activity. The last long step reach at the net for a tennis ball is a lunge. A jab step in basketball is a lunge, and can be a combination of different speeds, angles, and distances. You can even think of walking or hiking as a series of lunges. Foot positions vary, your depth can vary, and how many lunges you do will change. Observe lunges in your life activities and make sure you can handle the basics!
Squatting: Setting up for your golf swing, getting in and out of your car, and tying your sneakers all require a good squat. Full range of motion for this fundamental action is required to even go to the bathroom! Being able to flex effectively at the ankle, knee, and pelvis allow us to load our leg and hip muscles. Being able to hold a squat position, squat from various positions, or squat while loaded with weight are all very useful.
Lifting / Carrying: Grocery bags, children, suitcases…whatever it is at some point this week you will be lifting and carrying something. Take notice of how you do it and make sure you are using your full body. Being able to effectively lift things and transport them will allow for healthy independence as you age. Practice both of these actions from slightly different positions. Make sure it is part of your exercise week.
Rotating: The magic link to all of our actions. We rotate without noticing most of the time, even when we walk! Rotation through the ankles, hips, and trunk link together the chain reactions of the body. Think about throwing a baseball or serving a tennis ball. Raking leaves or shoveling snow are great examples. Notice elements of rotation up and down the body in everything we do. Observe how it is involved in your favorite activities and make sure to practice!