THE IMPORTANCE OF MOVING WITH INTENTION
Dr. Nick Davis, DPT, OCS
Many of us have heard that movement is medicine. In the sense that it can be beneficial for our health, it is. In the sense that dosage is important, it is. Movement is also far more than that. Medicine, herbs, and supplements all serve to compliment our larger lifestyle to promote our well-being. Expression of movement is a huge part of our well-being at any age. As someone who loves moving and helping others move in ways fulfilling to them, it brings me great joy to see people remain active throughout their entire life. It's what we were designed for. Movement is etched into our biology from early days when we were fighting for survival. Our primal physiology hasn't left us despite our modernized sedentary society inviting us away from moving as we once did.
It's harder to get loose than to be loose and maintain it. It's harder to be weak and get strong than to be strong and get stronger. That being said, no age or ability is out of reach to invest a little more in your capacity. The starting line is where you find yourself at this moment. Building blocks for effective movement include:
Can the movement segment (muscle and joint) complete its full range and access this range with control? This is the equivalent of having a runway that has plenty of length for an airplane to take off.
This is the ability to produce force at any given moment, primarily dictated by muscles in the long run, but also influenced in the short term by factors like sleep, nutrition, and muscle recovery. This is similar to having good engines for the airplane.
Power is strength over a given amount of time. For example: how much weight can you move in 1 second? This is all about speed. How fast can the car get from 0-60? Power is always less than strength. Power is also what most people stop training with age. This is a huge mistake. The main reason people get slower is they habitually stop moving and training fast. Some of this is normal with age. A lot of it is expedited by our training choices.
Building them (mobility, strength, power) up is like earning tokens at an arcade - use them and have fun. But the machine won't work unless you have the token to play. You don't want to hike the Appalachian trail to realize 1/3 of the way in you didn't fill your pack with everything you needed. Yet, many of us are guilty of doing the equivalent in our fitness journey, not having the mobility, strength, or power required to play or participate in our favorite activities. We can't always play to stay in shape. We also have to stay in shape (mobility, strength, power) to play.
Here are some examples of capacities to
develop and maintain throughout active life:
single-leg calf raises 25 times
single-leg squats from a chair 10 times
front and side planks for 90 seconds
reaching arms overhead full range
hang from a pull-up bar for 20 seconds
hold a low squat position for 1 minute
sit to stand from a chair 20 times in 30 seconds
This list is by no means exhaustive or complete. Different ages have different recommended amounts that surpass some of these initial guidelines. However, the difference in activity and quality of life for those who do or do not meet these are astronomical. Fortunately, fitness is not a dichotomy. If you're not where you want to be and the criteria appears daunting, fear not, you only have to move closer toward these metrics to begin to harvest the benefit of your efforts. If you're already crushing this checklist, then continue to invest in building your capacity.
I highly recommend seeking out a health care practitioner you trust to help you with your movement-related goals.
Until then, motion is lotion - make it your healing potion.
Dr. Nick Davis, DPT
Dr. Nick Davis graduated from Ithaca College, earning a Doctor of Physical Therapy degree. Nick completed an Orthopedic Residency as well as an advanced Spine Rehab Fellowship from Kaiser Permanente. His primary interests include spine-based rehab for athletes of all ages and mentoring other clinicians. He is on a personal mission to continue to play basketball through his 70s and practices by the philosophy: empowering people through movement variability and resiliency.