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Mobility Is The First To Go

By Tom Furman

There is an athletic saying that the legs are the first to go. Not too many sports use crawling as a method of locomotion so this is probably correct. A simple observation of society in general or a family get together specifically will give you an idea about movement and aging. The adults sit on chairs and avoid getting up to do things, they avoid squatting to pick things up, and they avoid reaching. The children climb, squat, crawl, run, and sit on the ground. Their youthful energy is hard to restrain and they don’t fear movement. The adults fear energy expenditure and avoid movements they are, “too old for”. There are adults however who continue to participate in movement. Everyone knows seniors who dance, do Pilates, Martial Arts, Tennis, even Kayaking. Those individuals who age yet desire mobility seem unafraid to move or LEARN new things. That may be the key. The ability to remain childlike in mind and body can be summed up with the statement, “Always be a student”. The ability to try new things keeps you mobile and young.

Some of the fundamental tools of any worthy endeavor should be inexpensive. Your own body and gravity would be a great start. The goal is to return to child like movement, so here are some ideas.

1. First, sit on the floor more often. Avoid chairs, but get comfortable sprawling on your stomach, back, cross legged or propped on an elbow. There is NO need to hold an uncomfortable position, but rather shift around and try a variety of positions while you watch TV, read, talk, or perhaps play with a child.

2. Practice sitting with your butt on your heels. Do it on a soft surface, no need to feel pain. This is a common posture in Asia and not as common in the Western world. Some of you will have difficulty doing it. Don’t worry, a certain amount of persistence is needed to feel comfortable. Individuals who do gardening often find themselves in this position. Some of you will need to put a pillow or pad between your butt and calves to reduce the stress on your quadriceps and knees. The size of this pad or pillow can be reduced as the tight muscles that inhibit mobility begin to relax and adapt. This process should never be forced but slowly cultivated.

3. Squatting on the toes would be the next habit you should adopt. Break in slowly. Knees that have not been fully flexed may be stiff and their may be some pain. Avoid the pain and be careful as you add this to your daily habits. If you have any compromised knee stability issues from injury or aging,…check with your doctor. This “habit” will begin to add some range of motion to your calves, quads, and hips. Move slowly and think of it as another posture you are re-aquainting your self with rather than an exercise. Start with slow holds, and gradually get comfortable with picking things up this way. If you are overweight, this move may not be appropriate since the added weight my contribute to knee instability rather than to aiding mobility and stability.

4. Bending is a move that we are told we should not do. This is rather odd since we are hinged at the hips and weights in excess of 1000 pounds have been lifted from this position. The fundamental concepts to adhere to would be folding at the hip crease, keeping the knees unlocked, bracing the abdominals, and keeping the back flat. With normal healthy body structure, this will come naturally. With modern adaption and the philosophy of, ” I’m getting too old to do this,” it is anything but natural. There is no need to hold the bottom position, but just remember the simple basics and don’t be afraid to pick something up.

5. Squatting on the heels is common in many cultures except this one. The skeleton, according to forensic anthropologists actually shows adaptation to squatting over a long term. This is one that you have to ease into. Weak hip flexors are overcome by tight hamstrings and getting to rock bottom seems impossible. There are many neurological tricks that can be used to hasten this process, but what is the point? Unless you are training specifically to be a baseball catcher or Olympic lifter use the slow and sure method of holding on to an object for temporary support, and easing into the squatting position. Focus on all of the previous posture changes listed in this article to get you ready to do this one. Let gravity and nature take it’s course with the natural adaptive responses of the muscles relaxing and accommodating the load. Don’t hurry this posture. You have nothing but time on your side. Slow and sure versus knee or back issues.

These are the beginning steps of returning to childlike movement. The next phase is Grounded Mobility. How to move on the ground to enhance your lower body strength, flexibility, and functionality. I cover this with intense detail in my DVD, “Concrete Conflict and Conditioning” available at www.physicalstrategies.com/articles For workshops I am available through at physicalstrategi@bellsouth.net

Review of Tom’s DVD:

“I am very impressed with Tom Furman’s new DVD “Concrete Conflict And Conditioning.” In addition to being an excellent DVD for developing mobility, strength, and injury prevention, it is outstanding resource for what Tome calls “strategic street assault scenarios.” In other words, what to do survive and thrive in various street fight situations. As Tom states on the DVD, “Real violence can happen any where at any time” and if you are not trained in how to defend yourself then you are in big trouble. Tom is a masterful instructor and gets the points across clearly. You do not have to be a martial arts expert to benefit from the combat training portion of the DVD.

In addition to the self-defense section, Tom covers a variety of ketlebell strength and conditioning exercises that I have not seen on any other kettlebell DVD. Some of the exercises that I really liked on the DVD are:

One Inch Kettlebell Clean for developing power for close quarter striking

Kettlebell Drop and Catch for rotator cuff strength

The Kettlebell Kneel and Clean for short-range power and power generation out of a kneeling position.

Alternating Kettlebell Knee Drop for knee Strikes to a downed opponent.

X Press for external rotation of the shoulder

Tom shows clearly how the exercises carry over to real life street fighting techniques. In addition to great content, which is the most important part of a DVD, the sounds quality and production on the DVD are top notch.

Tom’s DVD is a perfect fit for anyone that wants to develop an arsenal of defense for street fighting. In addition, even if you could care less about street fighting defense, if you care about mobility and injury prevention you will love this DVD. I recommend it highly.”
– Mike Mahler, author of The Aggressive Strength Solution for Size and Strength

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