The seven-movement patterns that your body employs every day to get things done are squat, lunge, push, pull, twist, twist, and walk. It’s not only during a workout. Make up your method for pulling a box off the shelf, picking something up while crouching, or walking all day.
But these movements have deeper roots in our well-being, says holistic trainer and licensed strength and conditioning specialist Jator Pierre, CSCS. to urge the full picture, you must go back, far back. If you look at it from an evolutionary perspective, we would have to use all those movement patterns to survive, he says. Diving to hunt, squatting to form a chimney or pushing to throw a spear. Today, life looks, well, very different. You almost certainly spend much of your day hunched over at your desk, compromising your ability to perform these same movement patterns.
If you can’t perform these movements correctly, your body thinks it has a lower ability to survive, explains Pierre. That is no longer the case. No one’s asking you to cook your dinner once you can get the Whole Foods hot bar tonight. Still, because your body is not yet caught up in modern times, a lack of proper movement increases stress, and therefore inflammation. So yeah, it’s big business.
There is no time like the present to push these movement patterns to the point. How is one doing? Try the seven self-assessment tests below, plus get tips to help you improve your game.
7 Functional Movement Patterns to Master STAT
Challenge yourself: squat down, hips back, knees over ankles, and heels planted on the bottom. Ideally, you would be ready to go down into a full squat along with your hips almost touching your heels. If you feel restriction in your joints as you go down, you will have a musculoskeletal imbalance, such as tight calves.
Make It Better: Place a stability ball behind your back against a wall for support and lower it (it should feel pain-free). Also, tell yourself to “sit” rather than “squat”, which can help you maintain the proper position throughout the movement. (If you want to increase your squat strength, depth, and mobility, check out these seven recommendations.)
Challenge yourself: For the forward lunge, step forward with one foot and bend your back knee until it almost bottoms out. Do your knees and ankles feel stable or shaky? Does your knee drop or pull away from your body? Are you hunched over and unable to lift your chest or head? All of these symptoms point to a problem with your lunge.
Improve it by: Examine yourself in the mirror for any weaknesses listed above, and practice merely going halfway down. Once you get the hang of it, you will practice the lower half of the movement and then put it all in at once. Also, be sure to regularly stretch your tight hamstrings, glutes, and calves. (For starters, here are 15 stretches you should do a day.)
Challenge yourself: Get into a push-up position, lower your body down, and keep up. If you do sit-ups (head stick out and shoulders bend) or your lower back sags, that’s a symbol of a lack of stability in your core and weakness within the muscles in your back and pelvis that help to keep you balanced.
Make it better: First, work on maintaining the high plank position (the top of your flex) to create strength and stability. (If you are unsure, please inspect these form tips.) From there, you’ll hit some push-up modifications, from wall push-ups to knee push-ups, before moving on to your toes.
Challenge yourself – now for the ultimate bodyweight challenge: pull-ups. Find a bar in the gym and check out a pull-up (palms out) or chin-up (palms in). Most likely, if strength is not an issue, this movement will also reveal some postural problems. People tend to take a dysfunctional stance, says Pierre. which means that at the highest point of the movement, the shoulders are forward, the spine is rounded, the head is tucked (not unlike what looks like bad posture sitting at your desk). This, to mention the least amount, is the wrong mechanics and can reinforce this “hunched over” position in your lifestyle. Not only can that contribute to back pain, but it can also inhibit breathing.
To improve it, begin with additional pulling exercises to increase your strength. For example, do high bar reverse pulls (also called reverse row)? Using a bar that is on the edge of the bottom, lie under the bar with your feet straight in front of you. Grab the bar and lift your chest toward the bar.
Challenge yourself – it’s one of the hardest moves to master, except for that reason, it’s often the most rewarding. Grab a barbell or dumbbell in each hand and try a deadlift (here’s how). Your feet should be more than shoulder-width apart as you roll forward from your hips with your back straight to lift the load off the ground. Many of us do this with our legs straight, but the knees need to be bent 15 to 20 degrees so the glutes are visible and support the pelvis and spine, says Pierre. If you don’t feel this move shaking your glutes, your knees aren’t bent enough. It can also reveal a muscle imbalance, usually overly strong quads, and weak glutes.
Improve it by: To strengthen your glutes, begin by doing hip extensions on the floor (go on your hands and knees and elevate one leg behind you). Incorporate these five glute bridge variants into your regimen as well.
Challenge yourself: To assess your trunk rotation, start with a bodyweight cut of wood. Stand with your feet slightly wider than shoulder-width apart, slightly bending your knees and keeping your chest up. Raise your arms diagonally across your body toward the ceiling and carry them to the other side of your body. Look at your ankles: Are they stable with your feet flat on the floor, or does the ball of your foot roll up? Can you maintain proper posture (chest up, spine straight) during movement? Does one feel any pain? (It shouldn’t.) If any of those problems rears its ugly head, a rotation deficiency is likely becoming responsible.
Make it better: First, choose a side ball roll. Lie with your back on a stability ball with your feet spread at the bottom, holding a light bar across your chest. Take a step to the right together with your | along with your “> along with your right leg and step in with your left (you should turn slightly to the right). Repeat on the left side. If you feel the stabilizing muscles in your core light up, you’re doing fine.
Challenge yourself: sure, you walk one day, but how is your posture while doing it? Is your head pushing forward from the collarbone? Are your shoulders rounded forward? Walk-in front of a mirror. Did my foot faint a bit to the side? Or do your hips shake from side to side (especially once you run)? which will indicate an imbalance, drag with the mobility of the hip, or dysfunction in its core.
Make It Better – Awareness is half the battle with this one. As you go through the space, direct your attention to bringing your shoulders back, chest up, and feet pointing forward with each step.
Making Every Movement Count
Since these essential movement patterns have such deep roots in your health and the way you feel each day, Pierre suggests getting back to basics. He recommends Paul Chek’s book, The Way to Eat, Move, and Be Healthy! because it provides additional tests that you will take, such as a stretch and core test. By relearning how to move properly, you will not only help protect your body from injury, but you will also move towards reducing undue stress and inflammation. We only have one body, so why not make moves to treat it right?
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