Why do teens and adults get tighter as they age? Why do strange aches and strains occur for no reason when you are older? How did you hurt your back by doing nothing? Why are people’s posture much worse today than 30 years ago? These are questions faced by today’s society and as a result doctors and therapists are busy working with these people in pain. The situation is only going to get much worse before it gets better.
If a child is able to touch their toes when they are in kindergarten, and continue to touch their toes every single day, they will still be able to easily touch their toes when they are 95 years old. That’s how the body works. The body does not like pain or discomfort, so it adapts to the stresses and strain which stretching puts on it. But, that same child that is now in Grade 1, sitting in a desk all day, playing video games when they get home, and not involved in any extracurricular martial arts or dance, loses their ability to touch their toes by about half-way through Grade 1. It happens that quickly. Now, add another 12-15 years of schooling, sitting in a poorly designed chair, then working a desk-job for 40 years. It’s no wonder most adults can barely reach their shins, let alone their toes.
What we can do for ourselves and our children? Get down to the floor. Spend more time sitting on the floor, playing on the floor, exercising on the floor. Spend more time in bare feet without expensive supportive shoes. Don’t just do the animal walks while in class, but do the bear walk, monkey walk, crab walk, duck walk etc when at home, in the playground and in the gym. Sit less, move more. Watching TV is fine, but spend half the time sitting on the floor, or on an exercise ball bouncing up and down. If you can, hack your home office/study space to be flexible – turn it into a sit-stand workstation. Sit some of the time, stand some of the time. Work all the Primal Movement patterns into your week. These movements are the squat, lunge, hinge, push, pull, twist, crawl/walk/run, hang/swing/throw. When we move with such variety we greatly reduce the need to sit and stretch for 60 minutes every day (which some people do – that’s Yoga). Instead, our bodies are flexible and supple because our body is not conforming to the angles of a chair.