I was leaving the gym last Tuesday and I followed the routine that I normally do when leaving. There is a slight downhill grade from the gym doors to the parking lot. The sidewalk winds around a bed of flowers and there is a retaining wall separating the flowers from the sidewalk. Without realizing it I always jump up on the retaining wall and try to tight rope walk down to the bottom of the wall. My mind is usually on the next task at hand when leaving the gym and this routine has just become something that I do when I leave.
On this particular day there was an older lady walking up the sidewalk to go into the gym. About half way up the sidewalk I saw her start to approach me. In my head I thought that one of my shoes must be untied, or maybe she was a student of mine in the active older adult class and I just didn't recognize her. As she came closer to me I could see a smile from ear to ear on her face. She reached out as if to slow me down so I bent over to hear what she wanted to say. She looked up at me with a huge smile on her face and said, "we all still have a little child left in us, don't we?” Before I could reply she gingerly hopped on one leg and started to make her way up the side walk at a faster pace. This 10-second interaction really made the wheels in my head start to turn.
Did she perceive me as younger than I was because of what is was doing or how I was moving? Did I perceive her as younger because she was able to hop on one foot and start jogging up the hill? Or is how we move throughout our day an indicator of our true physical age and can we truly stay young by moving more and more efficiently?
I think to a large degree the answer to all of those questions is YES.
As we age there are a lot of things that change physically with our bodies, and how we move is definitely one of them. How an individual moves can be a huge indicator in their true age. For example have you ever met an 80+ year old that still walks, works out, performs yoga and has pep in their step? Before knowing their age you would more than likely associate them with a much younger age group that still commonly performs these task. On the other hand have you known someone that has a lot of health issues stemming from lack of movement in their life, they seem much older and in fact their true physical age is actually much older.
We all can agree that it is almost inevitable that as we will encounter limitations in our movement as we age. But this is why it is so crucial to keep moving, and moving properly as we age.
We need to either continue to train or re-train our bodies to move is all different planes. This means not only moving forward and from the seated to standing positions, but from laying to standing, moving side to side, and other challenging movements like we did when we were children.
In the office and at the gym I train proper rolling, rocking and crawling patterns. These movements are good for the mind and body. They might sound funny and unnecessary, but these are the movements that made you resilient and strong as a child. They movements will get you back to strength as you age as well. God made us to move, if you are being honest with yourself you probably don't move outside of your own hips and shoulders most days of the week. To truly stay healthy this needs to change.
So here it is, if you are searching for the fountain of youth be sure to use both non-linear and linear movements on your journey. Tight walk the imaginary line, jump over the "lava cracks" as you did when you were a kid. Move in a zigzag pattern while swinging the arms aimlessly.
You will find that as you return to moving the way we were intended to move things like pain, stiffness, and fatigue will diminish. As your knowledge of movement increases you will begin to grasp that fatigue pain, and stiffness just a basic result of ineffective movement patterns and will be on the road to better health.
Dr. Benjamin Hendrix, D.C.
DISCLAIMER: This blog is meant for the patients of TROSS Spine & Sports Performance as well as the general public. These articles are NOT meant to identify, diagnose or otherwise treat any specific conditions. Please seek the advice of your physician before starting a physical fitness routine or for any health concerns you may have.