Embracing Moments of Movement In Our Routines
Find time for movement outside of fitness
Integrating movement into our daily routines undoubtedly benefits our mind, body, and spirit. Physically, our traditional perception of movement through fitness can help strengthen our bodies, pushing us to the next level. Mentally and spiritually, it can also keep us grounded in the moment. But movement doesn’t have to be solely tied to our fitness routines.
Rather than taking her background in biomechanics and following the path of developing orthopedic devices or curating physical therapy protocols, Katy Bowman, author of the book “Rethink Your Position,” decided to transform her background and bring her expertise and knowledge to everyone. She tells rē•spin, “I thought that everyday people, like myself, would be interested in knowing how the body works with movement and how to parlay that information into movement practices that make everyday life feel better, whether you exercise or not.”
When we think of movement in the context of our wellness, often, we associate it strictly with fitness practices. An at-home yoga routine, a pilates class at a studio, a long run around the neighborhood. While exercise is just one type of movement, it’s not the only one that exists. Through Bowman’s practices and teachings in her book, we’re presented with an opportunity to shift our perception. We are encouraged to rē-spin our approach to movement in our everyday routines.
“Our bodies need lots of movement — our parts need these ‘mechanical nutrients’ just like they need dietary nutrients,” Bowman explains. “Exercise is a nice big dose of medicine, but ideally, we could be feeding our bodies little movement snacks throughout the day. We can learn how to sit, stand, and even walk differently so that we load our underused parts more and our overused (and sore!) parts less.”
Movement’s effect on the mind, body, and spirit
Our bodies talk to us daily, including when it needs movement. “We have been taught about hunger signs our bodies send us, and we know about dietary nutrition and the fact there are issues that arise when we don’t eat well for our biology,” Bowman explains. “Similarly, the body gives signs when we are movement-starved or not getting enough diverse movements. Maybe it’s a sore body part that isn’t being fed well and needs you to change the way you use it. Maybe it’s difficulty sleeping because the unmoved body is restless. We aren’t taught that these can be signs of poor movement nutrition.”
Movement does not solely benefit our physical being. Bowman explains that there are movements that give us energy. There are also those that challenge our bodies and those that can calm our nervous system entirely. But it doesn’t just affect us – it can affect our interpersonal relationships, too. She explains, “We can use movement to connect to our community, to our families, and nature. Some exercise can get us that, but most often, we aren’t layering movement into daily experiences, we’re stepping away from life to exercise.”
She notes that “stimulating exercise” can be calming for some individuals. Pockets of movement within our day can provide those pacifying elements for others. This could be as simple as putting on your favorite song and dancing around your house. Maybe you sway as you cook dinner, or even take the extra five minutes to walk to your destination. She adds, “These are free and accessible ways to feed your mind a little movement.”
Embracing new forms of movement
Movement can encompass various actions we can take in our day-to-day lives. This starts with something as simple as our posture. Through “Rethink Your Position,” Bowman emphasizes the importance of alignment. She highlights the sheer impact just the position of our bodies can have on us. However, we need to identify “good” or “bad” alignment through our different positions throughout the day.
“Learning how to stack your legs and torso vertically when you’re standing and walking can be great for your lower back, hips, and knees,” she adds. “Maybe you’re looking at a device a lot and see your head is starting to drop forward, and it’s not so easy to correct the movement. In this case, you can do a couple stretches for the neck and shoulders anywhere. Plus a movement that helps your head back upright over time.”
Even singular shifts in our daily activities can increase our movement, like ensuring our arms naturally swing while we take a walk. Daily activities, including looking at our phones and working on our computers, can be improved. Implement the head ramp movement, which entails sliding our head up and back rather than having it stuck out in front of our bodies.
“Right now, while reading this, check your head alignment,” Bowman says. “If your face has dropped forward towards the screen, keep your eyes on these words as you reach your head up toward the ceiling. That motion not only pulls your head up, it will back your face away as well, taking any excessive curves out of your upper back and neck too.”
Even how we sit can help optimize movement by aligning our hips in a specific manner. Bowman suggests swapping your seat on your comfy couch or chair to sitting on the floor. Cycle through various sitting positions. This will stretch your hips, lower back, and legs, all while sitting down. Our spine should also be taken through four daily movements. Bowman instructs us to bend our toes forward and arch backward while pushing our hips forward. At the same time, turn to the right and left, and twist our spine from right to left.
“Once you learn to see that your body indeed has a shape in different activities, and then learn that you have options, you can begin to make adjustments,” Bowman says.