“All fixed set patterns are incapable of adaptability and pliability. The Truth is outside of all fixed patterns.” – Bruce Lee
Are you exercising inside or outside of the box?
I ask because our modern way of living affords us many luxuries and comforts. The chair is one of them. That comfortable chair we use to eat, drive and work can also become the “box” that limits our movements and the ability for our body to sustain health.
After all, life is movement.
Any time we limit our movement, we begin to lose what’s so inherently programmed into our body, a program that allows us to excel in our environment, for health, survival and performance reasons.
Movement is deeply rooted in our nervous system and allows us to maneuver in an endless variety of ways ; we can run, jump, climb, pull, throw and push and do so in unlimited combinations. Our muscles were designed to lift heavy objects, to hang from bars, to climb trees and propel ourselves over walls.
Our bodies were created to act and express ourselves as fully functioning human beings. Yet, how do we express our movements today?
Modern living has squeezed us into a proverbial box. That’s the bad news.
We sit all day – while we eat, drive to work, at work, and when at home on the computer or TV.
The scary thing is the body’s remarkable ability to adapt to its surroundings. Put our body in a box (sit all day) and it slowly molds itself to the sitting posture. You can imagine how difficult it is to move the body once it has adapted to that limited position as it now becomes the norm.
Once the boxed posture sets in, you begin to look much older and your joints take the brunt of the work causing unnecessary aches and pains.
Here’s the good news, you don’t have to be limited. You can choose to venture outside of the box and mold yourself into a healthy, youthful, strong and fully capable moving force.
Follow these three steps and you’ll never look or feel boxed in again.
1. Change your routine
Repeating the same movement over and over again, whether at work or at play, is like driving the fast lane towards limited movement city.
In a work environment, it’s called repetitive stress injury, where a small movement is constantly performed and over time creates an imbalance in the body. The imbalance eventually expresses itself as chronic inflammation and pain.
This can be seen in the exercise arena as well.
Here it’s called movement pattern overload. If, for example, I train the “Show me” muscles of the chest and arms to the extent of creating an imbalance with my back muscles, it will soon limit my capacity to move my shoulder. This type of pattern overload can expose the shoulders to injury due to the altering of its optimal position.
This can happen for any activity that we do, even if it’s just sitting in a chair or standing at a register all day. Repeat the same movement over and over again, and it will cost the body, usually in the currency of pain.
Avoid this by changing your spectrum of movement, expand your focus and changing up your training. By doing so, you build your body in a healthy and challenging way.
2. Get up and move
If you have a desk job or you stand all day, make sure to move every hour on the hour by simply moving around and stretching.
Try reaching your arms up to the ceiling, attempt a standing back bend, or perform a deep squat. Keep the movement range comfortable for you and avoid going to the point of discomfort and pain.
The idea is to remove yourself from the boxed position of sitting or standing as often as you can. Doing so can stretch out tight muscles and bring the legs and arms much needed circulation.
Even just taking a walk to the water fountain helps alleviate some of the holding patterns of our extended time in certain positions.
The fact is we need to move every joint in our body through the full range of motion on a daily basis. This is how your joints receive the nutrients and circulation to maintain optimal health.
3. Try new activities that you enjoy
We all know what a rut is.
Doing the same routine, is not only boring but it’s guaranteed to keep you repeating the same movement patterns that eventually box in the body.
Try different activities and do something you enjoy. You can try a kick boxing class or even yoga. Not only will it move you outside of the box, it alleviates much of the tension we feel from daily stressors.
Another way to add enjoyment to your activities is to take a Zumba class or any other dance oriented classes. You’ll be hard pressed to move your body in ways you didn’t think possible but you’ll have fun doing it.
If you need more adrenalin pumping activities, try mountain biking, rock climbing or martial arts.
Whatever comes to mind, try it.
Trying new activities will not only challenge you physically but it’s also mentally refreshing, especially when you’re trying to learn new dance steps or a sport specific skill.
You may even find you have more motivation for movement due to the new challenges the activity provides.
I know that at first glance, this may seem contrary to what is so popular today, hours on the cardio machines plus hours in the gym. Even a variety of strength training programs can “box” in your movements.
Let go of what you’ve done in the past and challenge your ideals of what it means to be healthy and fit.
Avoid being boxed in at work and even more important at play. Once you begin moving in new and challenging ways, you’re going to look and feel years younger.
In strength and longevity,