Movement Culture and Injury Prevention
Injuries are never fun. We all try avoiding them as best we can but when they turn up, we feel frustrated and look back wondering if we could’ve done something different to prevent it. What if there was a simple change you could make tomorrow to improve the resilience and capacity of your body?
We are used to seeing people specialise in a particular sport – be it at a social or professional level. Most of us just go to the gym and focus our training on traditional strength and cardiovascular fitness. However, when reflecting on our evolutionary past we see that physical specialisation was never our way. Humans have always been ‘movement generalists’, constantly adapting to our changing physical environment through a broad range of physical skills that gave us options to survive. Our injuries are often related to patterns of repetitive loading and strain that arise from a lack of movement variability.
I’ve been involved with a growing movement community since its inception in March this year, outside of the now popular ‘Movement Culture’ created by Ido Portal. This community is called the Online Movement University (OMU) – created by Jon Yuen, Daniel Murakami and Jonathon Huynh-Mast, is an online platform of international coaches and trainers that provides monthly units that explore different physical disciplines through online webinars for its members. Over the past nine months we have covered hand balancing, juggling, dance, isometric strength training, mobility and more. Every few months this amazing community of movers comes together for a series of workshops in some part of the world. Luckily for me the most recent meet-up was in Sydney.
The weekend meet-up included a workshop from each founder of OMU; mobility and strength with Daniel (who has a background in weightlifting and mobility), rhythm and co-ordination with Jonathon (who has a background in break dancing), and balance, flow and suspension with Jon (who was a contemporary dancer and is now a sought-after international trainer). I could go into depth about what they each covered, but a metaphor outlined by Daniel on the first day summarises my insights gained from the weekend. Daniel explained that as we grow from infants to adults – we commonly see the circle of movement capacity and options in the modern individual (seen around Da Vinci’s famous Vitruvian man below) shrinking, rather than expanding. This circle has the potential to be much wider and with it our resilience to injury and overall wellbeing.
Fig 1: ‘Modern’ man with limited movement options Fig 2: Restored ‘Full’ movement capacity
To expand our ‘movement circle’ requires simple lateral thinking that our ‘workouts’ can include novel and interesting movement scenarios with varying intents. Everything we do is based on intent – take for example a single leg squat. It is far less physically and psychologically demanding to complete repeated single leg squats if we are removed from the isolated focus of a gym and taken to a long hike down a Himalayan mountain – as our intent is to complete something far larger. In our efforts to broaden our physical capacity – we simply need to broaden and vary our intent. However, movement variability and intent are only half of a thriving movement practice. The OMU Sydney meet-up re-affirmed to me the significance of belonging to community. Being around a vibrant and diverse group of inspiring coaches – who share my passion and drive was really empowering, and eye-opening to methods and approaches I hadn’t considered.
How to get started with exploring a ‘movement practice’? My takeaway tips for the POGO mover are; try something new – attend a dance class, go rock-climbing, or join a social sport team – your body will thank you for some variability. And more importantly be a part of a community – whether it’s your surfing mates, your local CrossFit box or a Saturday morning running group – we achieve our physical best together.