Imagine yourself as a happy and healthy baby lying on the floor. Your in your favorite outfit, Mom’s watching you, and life couldn’t seem to get much better. Then, all of sudden, you turn your head and see your favorite toy lying beside you. It’s too far to reach with the arm closest to it, so you have to roll over and grab it. Using the opposite arm, you extend it over your body while eyes glued on the toy. Your core muscles contract and in one fluid motion…Bam! You land on your belly while your hand lands on the toy. You grab it and life just got so much better!
This story was inspired by a physical therapy session I had a few weeks ago in which my physical therapist (PT) noticed I broke down in my mid-back during my squat. As a result, she did some simple tests to address the root cause of my problem. Most noticeably, she made me lie on my back or belly and try and roll over only using my upper body (no legs!). She said to me, “imagine yourself as a baby trying to reach for his favorite toy.” So, I tried and failed…miserably! Here I am, a strong guy who lifts a lot of weight, yet I can’t do this very simple task. Why?
Answer: A baby’s body works in proper order in that movement comes naturally because its body is programmed to move like it should. The baby doesn’t consciously think of how to move, but rather, just moves. At this stage in its life, it hasn’t developed improper neuromuscular recruitment patterns that shut down certain muscles, like for me. As we get older, however, the proper function of our bodies becomes inhibited because we sit for long periods of time (which ruins our posture), fail to engage in regular physical activity (certain muscles atrophy and “turn-off”) , and overuse certain muscles that become imbalanced to others (i.e. thoracic kyphosis).
What does this all mean? It means that we all have work to do on our bodies, so they can function like that of a baby’s or young child’s. A good start is to try rolling over like a baby like I did. If you do, make sure you use your upper body only (arms/shoulder complex, core, etc.) and don’t cheat by using your hips or legs to try and kick or thrust yourself over. If you do, this means your body and muscles aren’t functioning like they should and you’ve got some work to do (like I do). If we fail to address the weak links in our body’s kinetic chain we will never have a functional strong body.
Thanks for reading and please comment down below by telling me what things you do to have a functional body? Is it yoga, pilates, stretching, massages, or something else. And, of course, can you roll over like a baby?