Practice Should be First and Foremost
By Michael Polito, Old School Street Fitness
Photo: Michael Polito Photography
When most people think of exercise and fitness, going to a gym three to five days a week and jumping on a treadmill ((I call it a “dread mill”) or other exercise machine comes to mind. It is normally relegated a specific amount of time during their day, if they have the time. Well, getting and staying fit is more than just lifting some weights and running on a machine. Mobility practice should be at the top of anyone’s fitness list. It is your mobility that will save you from the aches and pains as you age. Being mobile and flexible in as many ways as possible is crucial to a more productive, higher quality of life. How many times have you heard of someone pulling a back or leg muscle from doing something as simple as lifting a small amount of weight, or just bending forward to pick some- thing up off the floor? People often hurt their backs in the basic act of reaching up for something—most falls in the home are from nonelevated surfaces. Many people never practice moving their body until they truly depend on it for a specific reason and their body responds in a negative way.
Functional movement and strength should be practiced as often as possible every day. You may have a specific daily work- out routine, but before and after that block of time you can be doing little things like stretching, doing a few squats or push- ups while waiting for the water to boil, or maybe even just sitting in a low-squat position while watching TV. There are many things you can do throughout your day that will improve your overall mobility, strength and flexibility. Some of my favorite exercises that I teach my students at the beginning are simple but very effective. The stationary squat position stretches the legs, ankles, back, shoulders and hip flexors. To do this, lower yourself down into a squat as far as you are able. Start off sitting still for about 30 seconds or so, then start rocking side to side and forward and back. After that, start moving in a circular pattern. Try to sustain this posture over time to a few minutes without getting up. People have said that amazing things started happening to their body over time, including digestive issues improving, less pain and cramping in their legs and back, and mobility improvement.
Another great exercise you can do without leaving your home is walking/crawling on all fours. People in the fitness world know this as “animal flow” or “ground flow,” because it can resemble the movement of a monkey, bear, tiger or lizard. It is basically moving about on all four limbs—forward, backward and to the side—in a constant flowing motion. There are also many sequences that can be learned to really challenge your body’s muscular and cardiovascular systems. Ground flow works the entire body, and affects your neuromuscular communication. Most beautiful about ground-based movement is that it reconnects the body to itself. It emphasizes the important notion that our bodies are connected, and that each muscle and bone is dependent upon each other when we are moving from one position to the next.
Give it a try…
For more information about Michael, visit www.OldSchoolStreetFitness.com, or you can reach him at 845.416.2222. █