To many people, fitness means stopping your “real life,” changing clothes, driving somewhere else, and doing uncomfortable things without similarity to movement in daily life. Then they go back to “real life” – slouching, bending wrong, walking heavily, sitting rounded, leaning back to carry packages, taking elevators, and avoiding movement.
- At the gym, people do squats with a trainer, paying to learn proper form and upright back, then bend over wrong to put the weight down when they’re finished.
- They do proper lunges for their legs in exercise class, then bend over wrong without using their legs to pick up their things when they leave. They work with weights to isolate arms but never learn how their entire body stabilizes a weight, then hurt their back opening a window at home.
- They work on a treadmill or elliptical trainer but sprain their ankle when out walking because they haven’t trained balance and stabilization. They sit hunched in bad posture waiting for exercise class to start. In modern life, exercise is something you go and specially “do,” then destroy and ignore your health the other 23 hours a day. Fitness has become “fast food” – stripped of value, sweetened up, and mass produced, even when unhealthy.
Changing your real life into healthy movement is a big and inspiring area of rethinking and retraining.
Instead of sitting slouched then stopping to stretch because your back hurts, sit and stand well so that you do not get stiff and sore in the first place. Instead of lifting packages, babies, groceries, laundry, and everything else wrong all day, then stopping to do back exercises because your back hurts, lift properly.You get built-in exercise, strengthen your knees, and save your back.
Examples of Personal Functional Exercise and Fitness include healthy bending (mechanically healthy neutral spine squat and lunge) for reaching and stooping to clean your living spaces, pick up clothes laundry and children, sweep floors, and reach for things like your own feet. Use neutral spine for standing and running and overhead reaching for functional abdominal muscle training and use all day. Lying down and crunching forward and tensing muscles is not how you use abdominal muscles for real life.
Examples of Functional Stretching occur during good bending with a functional squat for crouching for all the many things you need to reach every day gives you built-in Achilles tendon and lower back stretch, in addition to hip and leg strengthening. Using neutral spine gives a built-in lower back stretch and prevents shortening and compressing the lower back during standing, overhead lifting, and running. Built-in functional shoulder stretch occurs when using neutral spine during overhead reaching so that range of movement comes from the shoulder rather than leaning back from the lower spine.
Examples of Functional Injury Rehab and Prevention for your discs and spine are good bending with healthy squat and lunge instead of bending over at the waist or hip to pick up any weights or objects. To fix and prevent pain and compressive injury to the lower spine, use neutral spine for standing, running, walking, and overhead lifting. For stopping shoulder impingement, keep neutral neck position and keep shoulders from rounding (or overly pulled back/ retracted) during arm movement. Functional knee pain fix and prevention is healthful knee position in all planes during bending, walking, and running. Many more examples to learn in classes.
Examples of Community Functional Exercise and Fitness are bending right to dig gardens with healthy neutral spine squat and lunge to feed communities and elders, healthy squatting to clean the floors, shovel snow, and pick up litter, lifting boxes of food to give to the poor, neutral spine when carrying things for people. Health care practitioners use healthy standing, sitting, bending and lifting mechanics with patients, leading musculoskeletal health by example.
Functional fitness movement during real life is the same healthy movement patterns needed for healthy exercise. Using functional movement all day practices, and is a solid base for much of your sports movements, built into things you already do.