Thursday, February 24, 2011

Practical Applications: Warming up and Restoration of Movement Variability


I’ve written about the real story of warming up, the real story behind stretching, and have introduced the concept of restoration of movement variability.

Now I’d like to submit some sensible foundation for how these methods are utilized. In this example the assumption is a person who has no current movement restrictions who wants to improve the ease and comfort of movement.

Step 1: Warming up

It makes sense that we’ll have a greater amount of movement available to us, a greater freedom of movement, if we first acclimate to movement. At this point, I’d like to discourage using stretching as a warm up routine. It is a poor method for acclimating to movement, which is the real benefit of warming up anyway. Instead, all of the body parts of interest are to be moved. To start, slow un-weighted movements are used and faster and more forceful movements gradually follow. There is no need to work all the way to an end range stretch. Working in the freely available range with a relatively high number of repetitions is the aim.
After warming up, it is likely that freedom of movement will have expanded even though no stretching has taken place.

Step 2: Restoring movement variability

At this point, directly after warming up, is the optimal time to refresh the movement variability repertoire. Slow, controlled movements into and out of positions that aren’t typically done with day to day movements are what I recommend. However, stretching and various other move and hold methods are applicable here as well. I’ll be submitting some specific movement ideas on this matter soon. But for now, as an example, someone who spends all day at the desk, sitting with head, shoulders, and hands forward and back rounded could introduce variety by standing up, extending the back and neck, reaching back with the hands and shoulders. The movements are done slow, and under control to the end of the available range. This is done repetitively and with focused awareness of what is being done and how it feels.

The thing about movement variability and our daily habitual movements is that our movement will tend to return if a habitual state if is continually reinforced by daily habitual movements. So, I typically suggest the movement variability movements be done throughout the day. Optimally, I would say 3-4 times throughout the day is a good place to start.

Should a warm up be done prior to each movement variability restoration throughout the day? If a person stays warm (acclimated to movement), say from an active job, then they may not need to. However, if they have a relatively sedentary job, they may. A bit of trial and error will be necessary here.

More specific applications and videos to follow soon. Stay tuned!

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