Full range of motion

When do we lose our full range of motion? Watch a baby/toddler move, see how natural their movements are, they crawl, turnover, squat and are generally bendy little things. I love studying how they move, balance, and strengthen themselves via movement.

As a child we take movement for granted when we run around skip and climb on things, we don’t notice that we start stiffing up and become less agile, we lose our range of motion. As an example, I can go through a stretch routine with my kickboxing class and I can hear them stretch, with lots of grunts, puffing and panting that go along with the movements like a commentary of stretching. I love it when people start encouraging themselves to stretch and talk themselves through the movement “Come on Julie you can do it!” it is like your inner coach coming out and spurring you on while you stretch. This inner coach gets annoyed at you if you can’t “What you can’t touch your toes?” then starts to guide you to the task in hand “Just a little further; breath “. I see this all the time, but I have never seen a little one goading themselves to jump up onto a wall or climb on a climbing frame, as older people do. Ido Portal is a strength and movement coach, famous for teaching Conor McGregor movement drills to improve his fighting, stresses that adults have forgot how to move and over time forget to use the full range of motion in life.

My life as a martial artist gives me the best and worst of movement, I repeat the same movements thousands of times so that they go into my long-term muscle memory, but I also get long term injuries due to the same movements. As I have said before the way I train and teach creates great damage to my body, so I have lost a lot of movement and flex in my body. I stretch every day, so I can move around in less pain, but I am never pain free.

The problem I have found is that because of years of stiffness in my back, when my back starts to loosen and move more freely I can jar it easier then when it was stiff. This feels like a catch 22 position, I don’t stretch and live with a back that does not move or I flex my back that can jar and can’t walk around for weeks on end without immense pain. I know the answer to this question is to flex but boy does the spasms make me feel sick with pain. As I generally love to train I do get carried away with myself, but there is no point training if you don’t enjoy it and give 100 %.

I am currently working with gymnastic rings to improve my shoulder movement, as I have a rotator cuff tear from a partial dislocation from last October’s pad work. It has helped my movement in my shoulder, but they are difficult to use when you first get them as you need to improve your functional strength to be able to use the rings to any degree of success. This also shows you how much strength and function movement gymnasts have to have to preform the movements they do. This goes back to primates (gorillas and chimpanzees) they have functional strength and natural motion that we have lost over the years. Apart from the ring work I have just been hanging to pull my shoulder naturally in length and create full range as well as hand stands for natural strength building and balance. The funniest movement that we have forgot to do is the squat, we mostly sit in chairs so have lost the movement of the squat. I find it amusing to watch people try to squat and to their amazement be unable to stay there for a few seconds or fall over. Just watch a toddler find a ladybird on the ground and watch as it takes the squat position to observe the creature. It does not make a noise when it moves to the position and it can adjust balance at will without breaking into a sweat like every adult I know. Natural range of motion has to be a daily activity for it to be of any function in our life as we get older, only then will we keep our full range of motion. As of this time I am truly a work in progress I will keep you informed of my finding on my journey.

Until next time

Big love from the AFC

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