By Ed Paget
- Can you get up from the floor without using your hands?
- Do you have the strength and flexibility to move into and out of a deep squat position?If you can’t, you should take note…a recent study from Brazil showed that people who used their hands and knees to help them get up from the floor have an increased risk of dying in the following 6 years when compared to those who can go down and get up without any support.
With this type of research in mind our osteopathic clinic is evolving to include a centre dedicated to the practice of natural movement. Personally I used to be all about what I could feel with my hands but I’ve shifted my interest to look at how people move.
I’ve been following the leading lights in the industry for some time (think Vern Gambetta, Gary Gray, Gray Cook, Gary Ward etc.) Recently I’ve noticed there has been an emergence into the mainstream of a form of movement called ‘natural movement.’ It seems odd to me that movement needs a qualifying word in front of it but I can see why it’s necessary as ‘movement’ means so many different things to different people.
I see a similar situation to what we currently have with food; when we go to the grocery store some food is labeled as organic, well in actual fact food that is grown without pesticides, herbicides and synthetic fertilizers is just normal or natural. It’s as if organic food should have no label because it’s natural, and all other food should have labels specifying what’s different about it or how it’s unnatural. Natural movement finds itself in the same predicament.
Squatting, sitting, crawling, jumping, running, climbing etc. are not new movements, they are perhaps some of the oldest movements that we, as humans, have. They are innate to our species. From an evolutionary sense more modern movements used in activities like cycling, most team sports and even the gym are relatively new to our bodies and provide a stimulus that is…well…different.
Lucy and I have noticed how some of our most injured patients or those chronically in pain seem to be the weakest. In addition to The 2014 Brazilian Longevity it doesn’t take a group of scientists to tell me that the more mobile and stronger I’ll be in my 70’s, 80’s and 90’s the better quality of life I will have.
With this in mind, I’ve begun to question a lot of the activities my patients do to keep fit and remain strong. I’ve asked many of them to tell me what they want to be capable of when they hit their 80’s (play with grand kids, ski, jog etc.) and asked them how their current activities are leading them towards that. One recent case was a gentleman in his 50’s who’d just discovered CrossFit. He loved it, and started training 5 days a week. He lost weight, and saw rapid strength changes with the movements he did but still couldn’t sit down on the floor without using his hands, which is one of the indicators of early death in the Brazilian study. Like most people, he chose not to focus on and improve what he couldn’t do, but instead he added more weight to what he could do. The challenge for him became about how many pounds he could lift with no real end goal in mind – just the next personal best. Now, if you think about that type of motivation for a second, what is the most likely outcome for him? When would he stop? You guessed it, it’s when the weakest area of his body gave out, which in his case was one of his knees. So he has now spent 8 months not being able to lift anything; losing all the gains he had, but more importantly he is now further away from any goals he had in mind for his mobility in his 70’s and 80’s then he did when he started lifting weights.