Squatting, lunging, bending, twisting, pushing and pulling are basic movements that are instilled in us from the start. These are the fundamentals in which all forms of movement originate. As an elementary Physical Education teacher, I am lucky enough to see my youngest students enjoying movement through the most simple means.
Ask a 5 year old to squat down and you’re likely to observe how the body was meant to move. Toes flared out slightly, knees track over the middle of the foot, chest stay up, and hips get below knee level. The child gets down to the bottom and can instantly transition into the upward phase without hesitation….weight in the heels while firing the hamstring and glutes. At full extension, the standing phase, hips are fully extended. Perfection!!!!!
In the gym, on a run, swimming, or on a bike, we endlessly tap into the key components to form the necessary “sport” skills needed for our chosen passion. The efficiency and quality of our chosen “sport” skills are directly related to our ability to perform these basic movements correctly.
However, skills can be learned and skills can be unlearned. The motto of “use it or lose it” is prevalent here.
As babies, we use these movements to help us explore our new environments. Watch a baby crawl, reaching their hand high above their head and bringing their feet into their bottom. Effectively a squat, just in a horizontal plan.
As toddlers, we use the movements to help us manipulate the environments. Squatting to pick up items, pushing objects (ie chairs), pulling to climb, and constantly contorting.
As adolescents, we begin to see the transformation occur. School days spent sitting in chairs, car rides to different activities – time spent unlearning. Also present is the changes in the body where we are forced to constantly relearn how to move most efficiently.
As teens, we begin to see true changes. As we begin to identify who we are, we also establish our habits. Are we gamers? Are we active? These years are truly pivotal for our futures and whether we continue to dismantle or preserve our primitive movement. Here we can instill efficient motor patterns or we can destroy them.
As adults, the stress of daily life begin to take its toll. Think about what your day includes….the sitting, the computers, the driving. Now think about what you do in daily life that involves our simplest forms of moving. Chances are there are many but we learn to compensate to make these easier. Flexing at our hips without bending our knees to pick something off of the floor. Perhaps, when seated on the floor (when was the last time?) – do you roll to your side and use your arms and legs to stand or do you get into a half lunge stance to stand? Take tying your shoes. Do you sit down and tie them or do you lunge down to one knee and tie the front foot?
Are you ready to get dirty and do the work others won’t?