Have you already been captivated by the way a child is moving?
Did you appreciate the freedom in their movements?
Kids move instinctively, they do what feels natural for them.
They develop their brain and motricity by moving, learning and failing.
Here are 3 simple practices inspired by kids to improve the mobility of your joints and the quality of your movements.
1 - SQUATTING
Less sitting, more squatting
Here is a picture of my niece, nephew and me.
Squatting is our basic human resting position.
We are designed to squat.
As foragers, it is how we would pick up berries in the wild.
It is how we would observe an animal footprint in the forest to track him,or lit a fire.
When you observe kids, they can all squat for a long time without effort. They observe bugs and flowers in the garden while squatting. They squat in the playground.
However, as we spend a lot of time indoor and since the invention of chairs, this basic movement pattern is getting lost.
Indeed, our environment is conditioning us to sit often :
From 5 years old we would sit on a chair many hours per day at school, sit when eating, then sit at home while watching TV, sit during your studies, sit working in the office, sit in the car, sit in the public transport...
Sitting often with the hips straight is very detrimental to people's mobility.
It creates back pain, neck pain, poor postures, weak core...
> Why should I squat?
- It will improve your digestive system
- It will Improve your body alignment
- It will create full dorsiflexion of the ankle, full knee flexion and hip flexion.
- It will strengthen the muscles of your lower body: quadriceps, gluteus, hip flexors, hamstrings, adductors and calves
Try to squat every day, make it a habit.
Squat when you watch TV, when you read, when you play with the kids...
It will increase tremendously your overall mobility.
In the practice of yoga, this pose is called malasana, yogic squat, also known as Asian squat(in Asia it is still very common to squat to rest, to eat, to work in the fields ...)
It won't be comfortable if you are not used to it.
But gradually you will see the gain in your range of movement.
If you want to challenge yourself, you can lift your arms overhead to improve your shoulder mobility and put more weight above your hips.
> Things to consider while squatting :
- Keep your back straight
- Keep both heels on the floor
- Keep your knees in line with the feet to avoid your knee and ankle to collapse.
Here are two tutorials on squatting technics :
2 - HANGING
Less standing, more hanging.
My nephew Victor trying to beat his time holding on the gymnastic rings
Can you stand upright, spine erect, shoulders back, with your core braced, during most of your day?
The spine is the central piece of our bodies. With our lifestyles and screens, our postures are compromised.
> How to improve my spine's mobility?
The opposite movement of squatting is hanging.
When we squat we fold ourselves, when we hang we extend ourselves.
So hang, hang on a pull-up bar, hang on gymnastic rings. Extend yourself, stretch yourself. Use a playground, a monkey bar to hang daily and let gravity align you.
This overhead movement has been neglected too.
But as other primates, we are designed to hang, to suspend ourselves
Again when we look at kids they can hang and they love swinging from their arms.
I challenge you to hang up to 1min to start with and see how much you can progress.
> What are the health benefits of hanging?
- It will improve your shoulder mobility
- It will lengthen your spine
- It will strengthen the grip of your hand and fingers
- It will improve your posture
- It will create space in your body
- You will allow more oxygen in your body.
3 - BAREFOOT
No shoes, more freedom
My niece Charline casually practising straddle.
> Does a baby learn to stand up and walk with shoes?
Of course not. They use sensory feedback from being barefoot on the floor to develop their brain and ability.
We have a lot of nerves endings in our feet. If we always cover them with socks and shoes, we are losing the opportunity to develop our proprioception.
Proprioception is the awareness of your body in space.
Said differently, it is the sense of self-movement and body position.
You can develop it by walking more barefoot, especially on natural surfaces: grass, sand, dirt...
Some of the problems you can observe when getting older are a loss of balance, flat feet...
> What are the benefits for me to walk barefoot?
- Better mechanics of the body(feet, knees, hips, back, neck...)
- Stronger arches of the feet
- Connection of your body with the Earth
- Grounding yourself physically and mentally
This is not by accident that many demanding practices such as gymnastic, martial arts, dance, yoga … are practised barefoot.
The practitioners make the most of the sensory feedback of their feet to move, flip, balance, rotate, jump, bounce…
So to summarize here are the three simple mobility practices to move freely like a kid:
- 🏋️♂️ SQUATTING
- 🐒 HANGING
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