Choosing to Move

By Coach Shokes

This past Canada Day, I was blessed to spend some time with two little nieces and a nephew we welcomed into our family last year. Anyone who has any experience with kids knows that the first years of life is quite fascinating to watch. My 1 year old niece was now walking around in full command of her little feet, there was no stopping her constantly exploring, while the 9 month-old twins were still stuck on the floor but able pull themselves up and poised to take their first steps alone. Seeing them I couldn’t stop thinking of this quote.


Kids aren’t born stiff and then work on their flexibility for six months. Kids are pretty much born with ultimate flexibility and no control. Then, they earn their stabilization.
- Gray Cook


I work with many adults who are both active and not so active at the CrossFit gym, and almost everyone (myself included) lacks all the mobility that is necessary for full strength and conditioning training. If we were all born with ultimate flexibility, why do so many of us struggle with mobility now? Where do we lose it?


Babies learn to stabilize their necks, roll themselves, rock themselves on all fours, crawl, stand and eventually walk on their own feet, usually in this order. At each and every moment they move, their brain keeps getting feedback from their movement and environment. If they fail to stabilize their joints by firing the right muscles at the right timing, then gravity will take them right down to the ground. Our body is amazing at adapting to the stimulus and the environment to accomplish the task in hand.

What is unfortunate in this modern world is that our physical development pretty much stops as soon as you learn to run and jump. From age of 4, you face new challenges to sit still for hours on end, at school, in the car, at the office, and at home. Your body is forced to stabilize itself and the brain starts to seek for the most efficient way to complete this task. So, the body stiffens both moving and stabilizing muscles, changes how they work in relation to other muscles in dynamic movement, and adapts to the demands you put your body under.  In short, stiffness and tightness is the result of your body’s adaptation. No reason you feel the discomfort when you put your body in a different environment, such as starting to exercise.


What’s the solution to the problem? MOVEMENT! You must keep your body in the environment that constantly challenges your body to adapt. The key is variety. You can start with one simple activity like walking, but eventually your body will adapt to that particular movement. Add in yoga, weightlifting, running, swimming, climbing, ANYTHING! Take an honest look at your activity level. If you spend the most time sitting, reduce the amount of sitting first and go out for a walk. If you’re already fairly active, try something you’ve never done before. Summer is the best time to get outside and try new activities with your family and friends!


And if you are a parent, please let your child explore and figure out how to move their body against gravity. Let them climb, hang, and go upside down. Sure they may fall, get a bruise or two, but it is very important for them to develop their spatial awareness when they are still light and small in size.


Movement is life after all.

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