Get off your chair. Why Movement can Create the Ultimate All Rounder.

 

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We are living in an age where the all rounder is the king. Gone are the days when you specialised in one thing-sports, jobs, and life. You need to be adaptable and ready to perform anything at any time.

Just have a look at the exercises we are now performing- Crossfit, obstacle course racing, hiking, Trail running, swimming, Olympic lifting, etc. You need to have a wide range of skills, have cardio vascular fitness, strength and power. Lean is in, huge bulky beefcakes are out! So how do we prepare the generalist for a ready state, a state of fitness readiness for what ever is thrown at you. Can you go for a 10 kilometre hike, a stand up paddle, a kayak, move furniture, chase your kids around at the park at the drop of a hat? How do we prepare people so they don’t get injured, have the foundation to learn new skills and perform all these activities that the all rounder needs. The answer is movement. We need to move more, be supple, get up out of the chair, stop sitting and start moving.

According to Dr. Kelly Starrett of mobilitywod.com, a physical therapy doctor, Crossfit box owner and one of the leaders in movement practices, we cannot sit in a chair in a mechanically good position. Our hips are neutral, our pelvic floor turns off, we lean forward, our breathing and diaphragm are compromised, head and neck move forward and spine is a in poor position. Everything shuts down! Starrett says we can sit in a good position on the floor as that is what our bodies are designed to do. We never take our hip to full range of motion any more. We sit down on the chair (hips at 90 degrees), getting up out of bed (90 degrees), sitting in the car, plane, bike (90 degrees), then we head to the gym and get on the elliptical machine or run on the treadmill. One great activity for this is the Caveman Squat (you can view the video here). This squat hold position puts our hips in full range on motion, increasing Anterior Tibialis (front muscles of the calf) flexibility and movement as well as increases the dorsiflexion of our ankles and this allows to move better. Taking our hips to end range of motion helps keep our hips stable.

Of course sometimes we have to sit- flying on a plane or driving in the car for example. But other than that we need to be in constant motion, always moving. Stand up desks at work or if possible walking treadmills. This make us move as well as helping us burn more calories and increase productivity. We can take frequent movement breaks- for every 30 minutes sitting get up and walk around for a few minutes, do a cavemen squat hold, some push ups, dips or dead hangs.

We know the answers, we just aren’t applying them!

We know the massive problem we have with childhood obesity. They are eating the wrong foods- too many processed foods with high amounts of sugars and industrial oils. They aren’t moving or exercising enough and spend too much time on technologies like ipads, phones and too much screen time. Stand up desks in schools will help kids keep in constant motion by standing, moving and changing feet position. Studies have shown that kids sit for about 4 and half hours a day. Think about it, we sit to eat breakfast, sit in the car or bus on the way to school, sit all day in the classroom, come home, sit to eat dinner, sit to watch television, ipad or computer. We know the answer- get kids standing up and moving to help create the fit, all rounders that are resilient and less likely to get injured. Kids with stand up desks at school burn 15-25% more calories per day! Kids are more engaged in a standing classroom and can interact better, increasing social skills and group work. It creates a discussion around movement being the norm and according to stand up kids, a get US based website highlighting the benefits of moving, it creates a “movement rich environment and as one researcher put it, physical activity is cognitive candy”.

Activities like Crossfit test our full physical capability running, full range of motion activities (kettlebells), mobility exercises and power and Olympic lifts. Crossfit is helping to create the all rounder who is ready for any activity walking, lifting, and helping a mate move house. Getting ready for life.

If you think about what are brains are designed or have evolved to do. It is designed to receive information then interpret that data to help us move through the environment to find food, shelter, water and to reproduce. You must be able to think to move through your environment and you must be able to move well through the environment to survive. We need a movement practice to help us be come good thinkers and problems solvers. We need to have a regime where we are constantly working on flexibility and movement exercises.

To become the ultimate all-rounder and have a ready state for anything we need to have all things in our life in order- nutrition, sleep, hydration, mechanics and MOVEMENT.

Wired to Sleep

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I recently read to book Wired to Eat by Robb Wolf. An absolutely fantastic read for those who are wanting to reset their eating, determine what foods are best for them and optimise their genetics. There was so much good information in this book, and his other book the Paleo Solution, but one of the best pieces I read was about sleep. I have included Robb’s tips for getting a better night sleep below. The reason why I felt this was so compelling is that I have had clients who have worked to the eating plan but still could not lose weight, and one of the big reasons is due to irregular sleeping patterns.

Anyways, Robb’s tips are in italics with a little bit of something from me:

How to get Awesome Sleep:

  1. Get more daytime sun on your person and in your eyes to establish a normal circadian rhythm. If possible get outside the first thing in the morning, as close to when you wake up as possible, for a few minutes. Walk or eat lunch outside.
  2. Our evenings need to be darker, cooler and not the equivalent to a rock concert if we want to get the best sleep possible. Dim your lights in the evening. Get yourself a pair of blue blocker sunglasses- not very trendy but they remove the blue light from screen before it reaches your eyeballs.
  3. Limit evening tech. If you watch TV use your blue blockers. If you need to use your phone, tablet, TV use the dim screen or nighttime facility (Night Shift on the iphone) built into many phones.
  4. Sleep in a cool room. Optimal sleeping temperature according to studies is 17-19 degrees centigrade. Might be a bit cold but grab a blanket and snuggle up!
  5. Sleep in a dark room. Strive to have it as dark as a broom closet in the centre of the Great Pyramid. Get some blackout curtains if need be, turn off any devices that have lights, no phone chargers, alarm clock lights etc.
  6. Keep a Journal. Jot down the things you need to do the next day so they are not bouncing around in your head!
  7. Get a good mattress. Invest in a decent mattress Robb Wolf recommends a Sleep Number Mattress where you can change the firmness depending on how you feel.
  8. Alternating Hot and Cold Shower. Robb recommends a 10 second hot/20 second cold shower. I personally like to do 1-minute hot 1 minute cold for 3 cycles. finishing with 30 secs of hot. This process appears to reset the circadian rhythm to some degree, helps us unwind and go to bed. It also facilitates reducing our body temperature, which is a key feature of sleep. I haven’t seen any studies on this technique but for me personally the alternating hot cold shower seems seriously fatigue me and I feel refreshed, revitalized and drained all t the same time! It is amazing and I highly recommend this protocol.
  9. Make a consistent schedule and stick to it. Set a bedtime routine, you know kids sleep better when they have a set bedtime routine.
  10. Stable Blood Sugar- Good food and good sleep work in a virtuous cycle that keeps you strong, healthy and lean. I do not recommend eating immediately before bed as this can make it hard for our body temp to drop. Some people find that a little carbs with dinner can help them sleep better, as sometimes too much of a drop in blood glucose over night can cause a release of the stress hormone cortisol and possibly wake us up. Some people (myself included) tend to sleep better with a meal that was mainly protein and fat.

There you go, an extensive list, but as studies are indicating sleep is almost as critical to losing weight as diet and exercise. Often people who struggle to lose weight find that once they reset the sleep cycle and get the required amount of sleep at night weight starts to fall off, hormones start to regulate and they feel better and perform better.

 

Living Primally

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In the upcoming weeks I will be writing a more in depth post on some of the following subjects but in the mean time, to give you an idea or guide to start living primally, here are a few topics to think about.

  1. Eat Plants and Animals- eat good quality organically sourced, in season fruits and vegetables as well as organic, free range meats.
  2. Avoid Grains, Sugars and Refined Polyunsaturated Vegetable Oils
  3. Move More Frequently- whether that be taking “movement” breaks at work after sitting for too long, taking the stairs instead of the lift or parking further away so you have to walk. Find more ways to move more often throughout the day.
  4. Get Plenty of Sleep- at least 8 hours!
  5. Play- have fun, move around, enjoy time with your children
  6. Get lots of Sunlight- Vitamin D is essential for many processes in the body and we can get an abundance of Vit D from the Sun.
  7. Lift Heavy Things.
  8. Sprint once in a while.
  9. Try Intermittent Fasting- not immediately, but once you have become fat adapted (I’ll talk about that in coming posts) you can tinker with not eating 😉

These are adapted from Mark Sisson’s Primal Blueprint Laws. For more of Mark’s excellent teaching see his blog at marksdailyapple.com

 

Functional Movement Screening

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Functional Movement Screening aims to evaluate how well a person moves through a wide range of functional movements or tests. It comprises a series of 7 exercises that test how well a person performs movements most commonly used in sport and basic human movement. The Functional Movement Screen uses assessments that test the following;

Squat Bend Pull
Lunge Push Twist
Walk Run Sport Specific

As with most sports, and in life, people predominately use one side of their body and/or are more dominant on one side of the body than the other, therefore, a lot of the load, power and force are projected through that side of the body eg kicking, throwing, picking up a child. This makes the athlete susceptible to injury and fatigue.

What the FMS aims to do is to score each of the 7 individual assessments 0-3 depending on the range of motion of the person. This scoring system then enables the identification of stress points, imbalances and mobility and stability issues and therefore the most likely sources of injury. Once these have been identified, corrective strengthening exercises are prescribed to help prevent injury.

The data from the FMS can be used for the establishment of individual, tailored programs for warm ups before sports specific activities, weight bearing strength and conditioning programs or as a mobility session.

Hopefully, the outcomes will be a decrease in injuries, more physical resilience, and the ability to perform more efficiently for longer with less stress, fatigue and soreness.

This type of screening is performed by many employers, such as emergency services (fire fighters, police and paramedics), strength and conditioning coaches and allied health professionals all around the world.

Here at Live Primal, we will be using it as the corner stone of our Kickstarter and 12 Week Program Packages, to determine how well someone moves and how we can simply, easily and effectively improve those movements because if we move better, we feel better and perform better, whether that is in athletic pursuits or in life in general.

Going Primal

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So you’re thinking about going primal.

Here is a brief summary of how I can coach you to completely change your life for the better…

The answer to optimal health and gene expression can be found in evolution. Going Primal looks way back into our past to determine how millions of years of selection pressure and environment created the perfect recipe for human health, lifestyle and longevity. Our genes expect us to be fit, lean and healthy, because if you weren’t back in the day you would’ve been eaten by a sabre tooth tiger! We can do this by following the diet and lifestyle of our hunter gather ancestors. You can reprogram your genes to respond to the signals they are given based on what you eat, what activity you do or don’t do, your lifestyle and sleeping habits and sun exposure.

Using our knowledge of human evolution we know that body prefers burning fat over carbohydrates. The standard diet or conventional wisdom tells us that grain based, low fat diet created by processed, sugary carbohydrate is the best. This is completely false. Going Primal shifts you from your carb cycle, sugar dependant way of eating into a fat based, all day energy metabolism that has supported human survival for millions of years. Humans have use fat as our primary source of energy for years. By eating more healthy fats (saturated fats are not our enemy) we can program our genes to prefer using fat for energy, rather than carbohydrates and glucose. Current conventional wisdom suggests saturated fats and cholesterol are bad and are linked to heart disease. This statement is only true when linked to high amounts of processed carbs and sugars. A high fat, low carb diet has been proven to reduce inflammation and oxidative stress which in turn reduces heart disease and cancer risk.

Exercise is ineffective for weight management and 80% of our body composition success is determined by how you eat. By ditching grains, sugars and man made, poly unsaturated vegetable oils and fats will promote efficient reduction in excess body fat, increased energy levels, decreased levels of inflammation in the body and optimal function.

Maximal fitness can be achieved with a minimal time with high intensity workouts. Just like our hunter gather predecessors who would sprint to catch a meal or run from a predator, we can use shout bouts of high intensity sprint or cardio to reach maximal fitness gains. Enjoy more benefits in a fraction of the time with high intensity and less of the cardio preached by conventional sports wisdom.

So going primal entails eating plants and animals and avoiding sugars, grains and vegetable oils. It involves moving more frequently, rather than being sedentary, stuck at our desk being Primal means getting up moving around, taking the little opportunities throughout the day to move more. Our hunter gather ancestors showed us the way with regard eating as well as exercise. They performed short bouts of all out efforts to catch dinner or to run from a predator.  They covered large distances over an extended part of the day to hunt prey or to move camps. They also had to lift heavy things, to make shelter and to carry large wildebeest back to camp to cook and eat. This shows our genes and predisposed to sprint occasionally, lift heavy things and perform long slow endurance cardio as our preferred methods of exercise.