Fitness Lying Down, huh? What’s up with that? These are some questions that I have had to face as I begin my blogging adventure. Truth be told, in one of my smart-alecky, sarcastic modes I blurted out fitness lying down to myself and said, ‘self, what was that? I like it!’ There was another name that I had previously been set on even before blogging that I could trace back two years ago, but somehow I was inspired to be a smart @$$ and this comical name has more practical implications than the other – Cornerstone Fitness … you be the judge!
So, getting into the nitty gritty about Fitness Lying Down and what it means to me and should end up meaning to you. I am convinced that we, as a culture, have moved very far away from the way nature intends us to move. Everything in our life has become easier to do and with less physical effort; this is good and not good. Of course, without having to do back-breaking, manual labor coupled with modern medicine, we are living longer than ever before. However, with all this ease in our lives we have lost the ability and desire to move; even when we go “workout” we really don’t do too much moving (let alone natural moving). ‘I’m going to sit on this machine and push forwards, I’m going to lie on my back and push up, I’m going to hold myself above the ground without moving, I am going to move my feet on this treadmill without going anywhere’…you get the picture? These replicate nothing in regards to natural movement that should occur in our daily lives.
I will be very honest – I used to think that bodyweight exercises were effective, but only for those that needed them; plus, I had a very limited arsenal of these exercises. In my mind, if you were able to back squat, bench press, deadlift, arm curl, etc, etc with so many pounds…there was absolutely no reason to be doing bodyweight exercises (warm-ups were okay, of course) – you’re strong enough as it is! I found out through the Functional Movement Screen (FMS), however, that even though I was (what I thought) strong – I was unbalanced when it came to fundamental mobility in my shoulders. If there is one thing that really upsets my OCD…its physical unbalances; so, I made it a personal mission to “clean” this up!
With the influence of Gray Cook and the FMS, I started looking at movement in a whole new light. Gray made some great points about how children develop their movement patterns simply by exploring their environment. Nature is not forgiving, so in order for a baby to start crawling, creeping, squating, standing, walking, and running they have to roll over first. No one has ever been able to do any of these movements out of order. As a child, you are born with a big, empty brain and unlimited mobility (do you know what babies do with their toes and mouths?)…your job is to take that mobility and make it cooperate with your thirsting brain by honing in your motor control (stability). How did you do it way back when? You practiced, practiced, and practiced some more. You did it without a coach, workout partner, fancy shoes, the latest apparel, music, cardio machines, or strength machines. It was you and Mother Nature and you were determined to get off of your back and once you did that, the world was your playground!
Wow, you may be saying to yourself, this guy sure knows a lot about babies…what is he a pediatrician? No, but right when all this information was finally permeating through my thick skull, our family was awaiting the arrival of our third baby, Ruth Marie. I want to say that watching Ruth develop and learn to move , with what I was trying to accomplish in my own and other’s workouts, and intersecting with the knowledge that I acquired, exploded into an element of fitness truth that I could no longer ignore: we need to go back to the beginning to regain ownership of our movement patterns!
Now, this does not mean that we need to repeat everything that happened regarding our movement development, but there are pieces of the puzzle that have been lost and we need to find them and place then in their correct spot. What happens is as we age and accumulate injuries and become more and more sedentary, we begin to move away from our original movement patterns by means of compensation. The brain then starts recognizing these “new” patterns and overrides the original. Thankfully, the originals are still stored away and safe, but what has to happen is the current ones need to be deleted and destroyed and the originals need to be restored by practicing!
Okay Mr. Fitness-Lying-Down-Guy, I just want to go and get my workout in so I can burn some calories and get toned…what’s this have to do with me? Well, I’m glad you asked! We bring our movement compensations everywhere, especially in our exercise world. If we have a dysfunctional movement pattern (which my good friend the FMS will tell me) and we continue to pound away on that dysfunctional pattern by loading it – we are going to do nothing more than reinforce the dysfunction. I don’t know about you, but if I know an alcoholic, the last thing I’m going to do is get him a drink! I am going to do all I can to keep this person away from the booze. Same with your movement dysfunction – don’t enable it – stop the problem! The great news is unlike the drunk, once your pattern is clean and sober, you can return to the suspended activities!
In my own personal vendetta to right my asymmetrical wrongs, I worked hard to balance out my right/left shoulder mobility according to the Functional Movement Screen. One of my personal favorite lifts is the standing overhead press with a barbell. I am not the stongest guy I know when it comes to this particular lift, but I love the strength I feel, not only in my arms and shoulders, but in my core and legs, too. Well, the ol’ FMS suggested that if I wanted to make my asymmetry symmetrical I needed to discontinue these beloved overhead presses until I have acheived symmetry. Well, for almost one calendar year I suspended this exercise, along with other exercises that would enforce my asymmetry, and took the movement challenge! I struggled with so many exercises that appeared simple and easy from the outside and most of them required me to be close to the ground – whether lying on my back or stomach, sitting on my butt or being on one knee – I practiced, practiced, and practiced some more! Finally, after ten months-plus, I conquered the evil demon known as asymmetry and gained full-blown, balanced shoulder mobility! With this new-found mobility, I juiced it up with some motor control (stability) like I have never experienced, and am now pressing like no one’s business … it’s great!
To finally wrap up this lengthy blog … we may not all suffer from an asymmetrical shoulder mobility, but I do believe that all of us are in need of reconnecting with the ground and taking control of the God-given movement patterns we were born with! Most likely, we won’t need to stay on the ground very long, and like the baby, once we can get off of our backsides, the world is our playground. So when someone asks you about you and fitness – you need to take a stand and say, “I will take my Fitness Lying Down, thank you very much!”