We have a right to move as humans. We have a right to run, turn ourselves upside down, dance and play. We also have the right, and the need, to move in more subtle ways: to balance, to laugh, and to breathe. Our body contains the history of how we move throughout life. If you did ballet growing up, your body has those memories in the brain as well as in the connective and muscular tissues. If you grew up playing team sports like soccer, you probably have specific patterns embedded in your posture and in your running style that echo back to those times of intense activity. Whether it is our injuries or just our relationship to how flexible we are, what we do and have done determines the current form of the body we live in today. When you move you are using the neuromuscular connection in a specific way that is tailored to complete the task you are attempting. Putting on pointe shoes and trying to balance on top of your toes requires a different set of firing patters than climbing a rope or running a marathon. The range of motion that you inhabit in your joints mimics the amount of tissue flexibility you will have. Jules Mitchell, someone I’m currently fascinated by, wrote her masters thesis in exercise science on what stretching is. Her conclusion: stretching is less of a tissue based issue (meaning muscles and ligaments) and more of a neurological issue – where the brain is comfortable in space. To be flexible is not necessarily the goal. Rather to be strong in a wide range of motion that is balanced is a healthier option. But put simply, if you don’t move rather consistently in lots of ways, you will lose access to the motions that you don’t participate in. Literally, move it or lose it. So, from a young age, when we have the option of sitting in front of the TV or rolling around on the ground, lets try to move a little more than we sit.
The other side to this movement coin is rest. Rest is incredibly important. It makes movement safer and more enjoyable. This is why reading a book or watching a movie is just fine. It is why restorative yoga is absolutely magical. In some periods of life, the value of rest trumps the value of movement. Sometimes we just need a break. But we have to take that break consciously, not so that we numb out of our life, but because we feel that a break is the nourishing choice for ourself.
So yes, move it or lose it, but also rest it. Have a balance so that as time continues to march on, your body is mobile, healthy, and a place to embody authentically.