Stretching vs Moving

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In this recent Popular Science article, Harry Guinness explains in detail that improving your mobility will help reduce pain than the stretching. As some one who has been practicing body stretching as a morning routine, this article caught my eyes with interest.

The body is robust, tolerant, and antifragile. The resting state of the human being is pain-free.

– Kelly Starrett, a doctor of physical therapy and co-author of Becoming a Supple Leopard (source: Popular Science)

In the article Guinness explains “the body has a use-it-or-lose it policy. If you spend hours sitting at work each day, your hip flexors, hamstrings, and even the joints themselves will stiffen, potentially leading to back or knee pain, and trouble walking. If you don’t ever squat down on your haunches, your body will gradually lose the ability to do so. And too much typing or other computer use can impact your entire upper body.” This sounds so familiar daily experience.

Mobility is a bigger idea. It’s about tissue stiffness, and it’s about your body being able to move well so you have full access to your physiology.

– Kelly Starrett (source: Popular Science)

Pain is your body’s way of telling you that something’s up. The sensation can come from an injury or physical impairment (in which case you should talk to your doctor) but it can also result from tissue stiffness, not moving enough, or sitting weirdly.

– Popular Science

Your body should be able to do the things you want it to do, when you want to do them, whatever they happen to be. You shouldn’t have to warm up for two hours to go to the gym—or to play with your kids.

– Kelly Starrett (source: Popular Science)

The article recommends the following mobility measures (selected text in verbatim):

  • Understand how your body needs to move. “(Starrett) breaks down normal human range of motion into seven basic shapes: four shoulder shapes (arms straight overhead, straight out in front, tucked by the side of your body as if you’re about to do a press up, and by the side of your body with your elbows pulled high), and three hip shapes (a deep squat, a deep lunge, and a deep pistol squat). Every human movement is performed using some combination of these upper and lower body shapes.”
  • Remember: your leg bone’s connected to your hip bone. One of the most important things to know is that your body is fully interconnected. If your back hurts, the problem might be your back—but it could also be above or below. Starrett explains “Your back is a system that’s connected to your hips. If you’re talking about back pain but not talking about how your hips move, you’re not actually talking about the back—you’re talking about 50 percent of the system.”
  • Pain is information. Pain is your body’s way of telling you that something’s up. Working in an office shouldn’t leave you hurting. And if it does, it’s a sign that you need to address something. Locate the problem, figure out what system it’s a part of, and find an exercise that will help. If in doubt, hit the couch stretch.
  • Don’t overcomplicate things. You don’t need to leave home and dedicate your life to yoga to start working on your body. That means simply moving more. Just moving and using your body more, rather than staying seated at a desk or in front of a TV, is enough to mitigate a huge number of problems. Starrett also recommends people mobilize for 10 minutes before bed.
  • Find what works for you. It’s your body—do what works for you.
  • You’re not trying to win. Moving well and without pain isn’t a game you can win. “You’ve just got to continue to play better and feel better. This is an infinite game,” says Starrett. How you play is up to you.

Great Article indeed!