Learn to Move Better

Move Your DNA

I’ve just finished reading “Move Your DNA” by Katy Bowman. It’s an excellent book and has really opened my eyes about the way I am moving (and not moving) during the day, and how my current “movement nutrition” needs some serious improvement.

I would definitely recommend it to anyone, but it’s particularly relevant for people like me, who are spending a lot of time sitting down working at a computer in a single fixed position for most of the day. I’ve added it to my Reading List page.

Katy Bowman explores the deceptively simple idea that your body adapts to what you do with it. Combine your genetic predisposition together with your movement patterns and you get the shaping of your body that you currently have, she then goes on to explain how you can “restore your health through natural movement”.

The book is split into two main sections “Think” and “Move”. “Think” explains all the concepts and science, and “Move” goes through a comprehensive series of stretches and exercises that can be used to help “release” your body from it’s current less than ideal state, and start heading towards some better movement practices. I’ll be spending some time slowly working through these exercises.

If you sit in a chair all day long, your leg muscles will over time adapt to that mainly seated situation, shortening and lengthening accordingly, and their usual range of extension will become different from someone who stands up all day, and different again from someone who does both of those things in balance.

Of course, this makes perfect sense, and on some levels it’s not very surprising. I realise that I have a bad back, I’m overweight, and unfit because I have sat in a chair working at a computer most days for 20 years, and not been active enough, but I never really thought about that in detail, and what part those movement habits have played in shaping my body, or why I can’t touch my toes, or how my myopia is probably a direct result of so much close screen work, and that maybe why I now have to wear glasses.

And it’s the extent of this shaping that is easy to underestimate I think. Every muscle, every ligament, even every cell, is shaped by how it is used. That’s how bodies work, feedback loops, use it or lose it!

And the solutions we come up with for “fixing” the problems that have arisen through these years of bad movement? – going down the gym for two hours a week to do a narrow range of repetitive “cardio” exercises while still sitting in chairs for the other thirty eight hours a week. It just isn’t going to cut it. It’ll take a bit more work than that.

In an ideal world I’d be able to spend most of my day working on reversing these bad movement habits to improve my health, I’d be outside and moving in many different ways for large chunks of the day. Unfortunately, I can’t spend all of my day working on good “movement nutrition” at the moment because of pesky things like work.

I am working towards freeing up some of my time so that I can move more, and even fit in the occasional longer hike. In the mean time anything I can do to maximise good movement through out the day is going to be helpful, and I’ll be exploring those ideas over the next few months.

So a great book. It’s changed the way I’m looking at my own movement, and it’s providing me with a method to start reversing the damage that my bad movement habits have led to.

I first heard about Katy Bowman when she was interviewed on Latest in Paleo 150. Her blog and Katy Says podcast have a lot more great information on her movement and health ideas.