What Kind of Animal Are YOU? The “BEST” Activities for Lifelong Health and Mobility

“How should I be moving?”

“Which activities are the best ones if I want to stay healthy and injury free?”

I get these types of questions all the time.

The answer might surprise you.

First, I have a question:

What kind of animal are you?

Wait, what? I know you’re a human animal…

What I mean is: how does your unique body love to move in the world?

If you don’t know, then you probably aren’t moving in the best way(s) for you. But don’t worry – I’m going to help you figure this out! In fact, it’s pretty simple…

Mary Oliver, in one of my favorite poems of all time, writes:

You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
For a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.

How many of us arrive at a new workout or exercise mentality that looks and feels a lot like walking on our knees repenting for a hundred miles through the desert?! I know. I’ve been there…over and over.

So what should we be doing?

  • Do something that makes you happy.
  • Do something that puts a stupid cheesy grin on your face.
  • Do something that feels good in your bones and your soul.
  • Do something that is so YOU it couldn’t possibly be labeled “exercise.”

It wasn’t until a year or so ago that I truly let go of trying so hard to do the healthiest, best and “right” things for my body…and started to choose whatever felt the most fun and made me the happiest. You know what this feels like?

F R E E D O M

I would now argue that this philosophy is what’s healthiest and best – and, it changes over time, like we do! What we enjoy and love today might not be what we need and want a year or five years from now.

When we approach movement with the fluidity of life itself, allowing what we want and need to evolve with us – we make space for unlimited choice. We’ll feel free to move how we want, when we want, in ways we want…for a lifetime.

Maybe you’re already doing this and if so, I salute your brave departure from modern exercise mentality!

Some of you might be thinking “Yeah but some people don’t exercise at all and that’s bad for you! We all need strong muscles and hearts and there’s no way to get that without working hard for it.” Hang in here with me 🙂

If you’re a professional athlete or serious about a particular sport…hopefully that thing makes your heart and body sing and come alive, because chances are you’ll have to do a lot of other things that aren’t so fun in order to be the best at your sport. This post doesn’t necessarily apply to you.

I want to help those of you who think working out is a chore, a bore or always a downright sufferfest lacking any enjoyment. And if you’re the type of person who always wants to do the “right” thing (AKA the “healthiest” as demonstrated by science or the latest studies), then my hope is maybe you’ll find yourself forgoing what’s “right” in favor of what feels good…and in doing so discover a whole new way of moving that will last a lifetime and fuel your desires to get and stay healthy.

I am an animal that loves…

Read More

PNF Stretching – Bigger Flexibility Gains Without the Dangers of Static Stretching

Screen Shot 2016-08-09 at 12.09.28 PM

pf-ad-1

What’s the best way to stretch?

This is one of the most commonly asked questions I get, and the answer is finally here!

If you want to increase flexibility, stay limber, mobile and healthy then “stretching” is a favorite the world over for all of these, but…exactly HOW should you be stretching?

If you’ve been hanging out with me here at Mobility Mastery for any length of time then you’re probably aware that I’m not a fan of static stretching (going into a linear stretch and holding it for an extended period of time). In fact I adamantly oppose it for most people most of the time. This is because taking “cold” muscles into intense stretches and forcing all your tissues to stay lengthened greatly increases the chances those same tissues will resist being pulled on, which means risking micro tears, stretch reflexes and generally doing more harm than good.

The potential benefits of static stretching simply aren’t worth the risks (in my opinion). Besides…there are FAR BETTER ways to stretch that not only yield better results for increasing flexibility and range of motion but have nearly zero potential for harm if performed correctly.

So what’s the BEST method of stretching?

My personal favorite way to stretch is called PNF stretching. PNF stands for proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation.

In the above video I talk about the basic principles behind PNF and show you a simple PNF stretching routine for 4 basic muscle groups: quads, hamstrings, calves and chest. Instructions for specific stretches starts at 2:37.

But first…

Before you stretch, know your WHY:

Why do you want to stretch? Is it for sport specific reasons like being a gymnast or dancer?

Are you trying to stretch your way out of pain?

Do you simply want to maintain healthy muscles and range of motion?

All of the above?

Read More

Master Mobility by Learning the Distinctions Between Flexibility, Inflexibility and Fascial Restrictions Part 3 – Flexibility or Mobility Issue?

Screen Shot 2016-08-09 at 12.09.28 PM

pf-ad-1

This is Part 3 in a 3-Part series. Click here for Part 1 and click here for Part 2.

When is “inflexibility” a fascial restriction or mobility issue, and when is it true inflexibility?

That’s the topic of Part 3, the last in this series.

Fascial restriction can APPEAR to impact flexibility, and this is a really important distinction to understand because if we try to target what seems inflexible rather than going after the cause of immobility, we could injure ourselves or make things a lot worse.

I will not be covering every possible example of this or we’d be here all day, but I do want to give you the ones I see the most in my private practice.

Got tight hamstrings? Are you SURE?

The most common example of this is when the hamstrings appear tight or inflexible when what is really going on is a low back pain pattern (even if you don’t have low back pain).

If you’re in a fascial restriction pattern that is endangering your spine, your brain will step in to PROTECT you by limiting your range of motion.

In the case of low back pain patterns it is my opinion that the brain recruits the GLUTES and hamstrings to tighten up neurologically to keep you from injuring your spine.

The real CAUSE of distress in the low back is going to be somewhere in the quads and quad hip flexors, the IT Bands or adductors.

Most often it is actually the glutes that are the “tightest” (neurologically speaking, NOT from overuse) and if the glutes are in lock down there’s no way you’re going to be able to reach down and touch your toes. (Your body is PROTECTING you). But the problem is NOT hamstring inflexibility. I see a LOT of people attempting to stretch their hamstrings in an attempt to relieve low back pain and posterior chain tightness and I always cringe!

And…some people just have inflexible hamstrings, plain and simple.

The key to mastering your mobility is to learn how to know the difference.

Other examples:

Read More