Started With Rolling Now We Here:
As newborns, we progressed through the fundamental stages of movement. This started with rolling from our backs to our fronts. From there we learnt to prop our arms and legs up under us and crawl. Then came standing and locomotion, walking and such. Finally we considered using level changes such as squatting, hinging, lunging, pushing and pulling ourselves through space, latching on to the things we claimed as our own as toddlers. All this seems so natural, yet somewhere down the road, we as a population have lost the ability to practice this natural order of progressing movements. We are condemned to a life of propping ourselves up with numerous pillows, never having to roll out of bed. Crawling is skipped all together. We have found ways to cut out walking or running through escalators and cars. Conveniently never breaking parallel in our squatting patterns to bar our stools and car seats. A sad truth I am sure you will agree. But worry no longer, we can work to restore our functional human movement patterns, and it starts with your head. Well, neck to be precise.
Through controlled movement patterns and the use of our body's wonderful vestibular system (the body's regulatory system for movement, balance and proprioception that essentially dictates that if you look down, you’ll go down and visa versa) we can rebuild our capacity for fluid, stable and strong movement.
Start by re-acclimating yourself with the ground. Supine (face-up) and prone (face-down) anywhere you want (in front of the TV at home makes more sense than the local supermarket if you ask me). Think about moving your vertebrae one-by-one from top down. Segmental rolling is necessary for spinal function, however in today's computer and cell-phone driven world, we typically flop forward, lurching more often than not, from our t-spine. Laying on your front requires cervical and thoracic extension, immediately opposing a seated position. So get down.
Start with a neutral spine. Prop your elbows under your shoulders and pull your shoulder blades apart. Squeeze your glutes down to the ground. Tuck your chin towards your chest, try to roll all 7 pieces of the cervical spine one-by-one into flexion. Now reverse the movement piece by piece finishing with your chin pointing outwards and up. Feel the tissues that run parallel to the spine pull and slide as the movement progresses, restoring parity to your joints as they move.
Stay in the same starting position and now move laterally. Begin to include the thoracic spine and rib cage in the movement. Look over your shoulder at your opposite heel. Controlled lateral bending. Feel the lats peel loose from your rib cage and breathe life into your shoulders.
Finally, lay flat on your back and place your arms overhead. Use your head and neck to lead a roll from your back to your front, rolling side to side using your armpits and hips as the axis of movement. If you’re anything like me, you’ll see this as both fun and rewarding.
Try these 3 drills and see how well they restore some of the fundamental movement patterns your body requires to assimilate its joints, tissues and balance in motion.
Day To Day
Think of all of the tasks, both in daily life and in an athletic capacity where these foundational, yet regularly ignored movements appear. From looking over your shoulder to performing the turkish get up, spitting out your toothpaste to striking a golf ball, pulling your luggage at the airport to handing off the baton in a relay.
Cherish the foundations. For it is where we build our strength. Don’t rush your learning, for we all too often end up with information but without any learning.