Photo: woods wheatcroft photography

Not Moving Could Shorten Your Life

If you are like most of us, you spend most of your day in a few positions – and a lot of time sitting. Within the last two generations, physical activity has dropped by 32%. This lack of movement increases the likelihood of Alzheimer’s disease by 82% [1]. It also causes a 114% increased risk of reporting poorer general health than a person who is physically active.[2]

A sedentary life is the new normal. We are sold devices that make our lives easier, encouraging less movement. Texting would hardly be considered a movement exercise.

It gets worse: we don’t realize that for hundreds of years we were trained to stand still and move incorrectly. In 40 years of private practice, I have never seen a client who was breathing fully or using gravity to aid their walk – including the Olympic and professional athletes I’ve worked on. Your first breath was your first movement. From that day on, you slowly tightened your breath.  You learned a walk that made you tighter from fighting gravity and your body’s natural movement pattern.

Most of your restrictions developed slowly over decades. One day you wake up, and you have a back problem that will not go away no matter what you do. It’s as if your joints became rusted from lack of use. You are told you are out of shape, which may be true. Often exercising will bring initial improvements. Over time your exercise can accentuate your tightness and stiffness, as your limited movement patterns get reinforced. You may not realize that twenty years of sitting at a desk had more impact on your body than twenty years of no exercise.

The Power of Movement

It’s a biological imperative to move. Our ancestors were constantly moving. Unlike horses, which can sleep standing, we are not built to stand for extended periods.

Everyone believes they are breathing enough—they aren’t. The Olympic marathon runners I worked with discovered that they had more capacity to breath after their chests were released. Your chest gets tight from years of not breathing a full, relaxed breath. As the saying goes, “If you don’t use it, you lose it.” We stopped breathing a full relaxed breath primarily because of stress. Your walk gradually shifted away from leaning forward into gravity to leaning back where walking is climbing a hill.

If the only thing you do is create more movement with your breath and walk naturally, the rest would increasingly work itself out. Doing these simple behaviors and moving in a freer manner usually requires help. A tight body often can’t stretch its tightest parts. From years of inefficient movement, your body became tighter. For many stretching, massage and chiropractic treatments don’t last. That is because the chronic structural and movement patterns were not released.

Start catching yourself holding your shoulders, stomach or breath. They all are connected. Once you notice it, relax. As far as your walk, play with falling forward as you relax into gravity. It will feel strange at first. Eventually, it will become the norm. Change positions and furniture through the day. Take movement breaks through the day. Begin moving like you did as kid—start playing. You can go to my site, www.align.org to download a free book on natural walking.

Owen Marcus, MA Certified Advanced Rolfer & author, www.align.org, 37 yrs experience, author of: Power of Rolfing– call if you have questions: 265.8440.

[1]              Diabetologia. 2012 Nov;55(11):2895-905

[2]             Preventive Medicine ; Volume 37, Issue 5, November 2003, Pages 520–528

Photo:PhotoGranary / Pixabay

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