Imagine you can no longer bend your arm at the elbow. Imagine it as being completely fused in a straight, locked-out position. Go ahead and put on a jacket or walk into the kitchen for a glass of water or do some laundry with your arm completely straight and see what kind of an impact that will have for you. Yesterday your arm was normal, today it is not. What will you do? Surely you realize something is wrong and you will seek help. You will take measures to regain the ability to move your arm, won’t you?
Now imagine that, if instead of occurring overnight, the loss of motion of your arm occurred gradually over 50 years. Practically imperceptibly, each day and week and month and year went by with tiny decreases in range of motion. After 30 years you began to favor the other arm for tasks you didn’t have to think about before. After 40 years you could tell it didn’t bend as much as it used to and it hurt when you tried so you avoided bending it all the more. And after 50 years that arm is fixed into a rigid, locked-out position that severely limits your ability to do simple tasks like scratching your ear or brushing your teeth or getting dressed, not to mention lifting grandchildren or crawling on the floor to fix the kitchen sink.
Now apply that question to large movement tasks. Can you sit on the ground to tie your shoes as quickly and as easily as you could 20, 30, or 40 years ago? I will bet the majority of the population would answer no. Let the gravity of the previous story sink in. Loss of mobility rarely happens overnight. Most of us won’t see the warning signs and intervene until it is too late and we are stuck with a body that doesn’t do for us those things that used to be easy. Scary, isn’t it?
But fear not! There is a solution! A cure! The ending to that story can change, MUST change, if we are to enjoy this thing we call life. The solution is to move your body. Move it frequently, move it in a variety of ways, and do it on purpose. By moving your body frequently, you will stay in tune to what it can or cannot do. If you find a weakness, or a posture that you have a hard time assuming, let that tell you that you must spend some time and energy to re-gain that posture before another 20 years go by and it becomes truly off limits. If positions are painful or if you are unsure how to progress, seek guidance from physical therapists or personal trainers or other movement professionals.
Moving often is a form of self-assessment. It serves to check in with yourself. It builds awareness in function. Can you get to the ground as easily as yesterday, as last month, as 2 years ago? The daily actions and habits and movements that we perform, or that we do not perform, have the largest impact on our lives.
Chronological age is not the same as biological age. I’ll say it again; chronological age—the number of years we have been alive, is not the same as our biological age—the state of internal physiological health and function that our bodies display. If you would like an example, search on YouTube for “Old Yoga Master” and become inspired.
To keep yourself physiologically young, perform daily, even hourly movement self-assessments. Stay tuned in to your body and treat it well. It will respond to you. What you do, what you avoid, what you ingest, what you don’t ingest…all factors play a part. But when it comes to movement function, don’t let time slip away and make daily purposeful movement part of your lifestyle.