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Episode 144: Movement Fluency

Video Highlights

- Loss of movement precedes injury.
- Loss of movement precedes performance detriments.
- Movement ABC's and beyond.

Hi. I’m Dr. Eric Cobb of Z-Health Performance. What I’d like to do for the next few minutes is talk to you about one of my favorite phrases, and that phrase is this – the basic currency of health, fitness, and athleticism is movement.

Now, what happens over time, if you watch most people, you get a kid and as the kid grows up, the kid’s out on the playground and hanging from monkey bars and tumbling and falling and rolling and spinning and rolling down hills and they have this really full banquet of movement day in and day out.

Then they go to school. They start taking up sports and over time what was this very wide range, brain-stimulating level of movement gets a little bit smaller. We talk about their movement box begins to shrink.

I like to use a term of kind of a language term because whenever you can move your whole body in all directions at all speeds, we call that movement fluency. Over time that movement fluency begins to degrade. Usually by the time people have reached their twenties, thirties, and now moving into their forties, what was this gigantic, enormous movement box has become quite small.

The only things that they’re good at anymore are getting out of bed, taking a shower, driving, walking to the car, walking in the office, sitting all day, and making it back to the television at night.

Unfortunately, as we have learned more and more about neurophysiology, whenever we move less, our brains don’t work as well. Not only is movement loss a potential pain problem or injury problem, it’s also a potential cognitive problem meaning it can cause issues with memory, with both short and long-term retention, with the ability to access language, all kind of different things.

In the Z-Health system, if you’ve had any exposure, what you’ll notice is we start really simply. We tell people, “You know what? We’re going to start off and we’re going to teach you the A, B, Cs of movement.”

An example would be we start off with a thoracic spine. I’m going to have Shannon come in here and have him face this way. Just in the example, he’s going to bend his knees, get nice and comfortable, and he’s going to focus on moving this area of his back. He’s going to flex this area. Let your head and chin go down. He’s going to come up and he’s going to try and go into extension. Great. Nice and easy. He starts to learn that. That’s actually much harder than it looks to do in an isolated fashion.

This would be like learning the letter E.

Now, we all know that you can’t just take random letters and create a sentence. You have to actually be able to put the words together to create fluid language. The way that Z-Health is taught is we progress from this basic letter to a word. Here’s an example. What I’m going to have him do now is we’re going to get into what I consider the basic athletic positions of life. We’re getting into a lunge position. He’s going to take his left leg.

He’s going to step forward into an anterior 45 lunge. Now to make this a little bit more realistic, we’re going to add some rotation to it. He’s going to turn his body this way. Get nice and tall. He’s going to repeat that same motion.

While that may not look that different, it’s hugely different on the demands both for his brain and his body. In Z-Health what we’ve done is created a template approach that allows you to do, “You know what? This works and I’m getting some good information,” but we’re going to make it even harder because we’re going to change something else.

I’m going to have him take his left foot and turn his toes out toward me. He’s going to take the toes of the other foot and he’s going to point them the other way. Now I’m going to have him do the same exact drill again. You can’t see the expression on his face, but this one’s making him work pretty hard.

What’s weird is that small changes make a huge difference in the demands on the brain and the demands on the body. The problem is if you don’t go through these types of challenges regularly … Thanks … Your brain begins to lose the capacity to control movement.

Loss of movement precedes injury. Loss of movement precedes performance detriments.

If movement is the basic currency of health, fitness, and athleticism, you need a training approach that does not say, “You know what? There are only 14 exercises that we need to do. We need to do them in this rigid, linear manner.”

That’s not how Z-Health works. We go, “Listen. We’re going to teach you building blocks of movement. Then we’re going to teach you to speak the language of movement fluently.”

As you do that, you’re going to see tremendous changes, not just now, but in the future in everything about your life – how much you hurt or don’t hurt. How well you perform, how well you don’t perform.

Those changes actually manifest as I said, not just physically, but emotionally, cognitively, mentally as well. As you think this through in your own training, even if you really haven’t gotten into the whole Z-Health thing yet, begin experimenting with expanding your movement box.

As you do that, you’re going to reap tremendous levels of benefit.

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