Successful Life and Aging Starts With Movement

March 01, 2021

Movement is medicine.


Movement is life.

Movement is what separates us from plants. While they exogenously produce chemicals to keep predators away, we have the freedom to move.

In our most primitive form, we had the flight or freeze response—that is something that we share with other mammals. The fight response emerged later as it was learned to be evolutionarily beneficial; however, fighting is a high risk, high reward behavior.

Beyond our most primal system, though, humans are more complicated in terms of our thinking, in that we can have a direction and intentionality with regards to our metaphorical or actual movement. In terms of our health, we are capable of setting targets and planning the actions to meet them.

Exercise is generally viewed as a subset of movement, yet this highlights a mismatch between how our bodies were evolved and the environment we are living in. We evolved with the necessity of movement for survival, but that is no longer the case in terms of having our basic needs met. We have a dopaminergic system which rewards us and combats our tendency for inaction, yet, if we look at our bodies with the flow of blood and the lymphatic system, we see that movement is always occurring within us.

When considering types of movement and exercise there are some areas that are non-negotiable for prehabilitation, and also some extra considerations:

1. Strengthening

Lean muscle mass is predictive of longevity. While it is important to strengthen our large muscle groups for general mobility, it is also good to be strategic. Strengthening the posterior rotator cuff, for example, can help combat our usual protracted postures where our shoulders round in.

2. Endurance

To meet our cardiovascular demand for function and health, anything that gets your heart rate up will do. It can either be in short bursts of high intensity, like doing 10 sprints; or longer duration of lower intensity, like a half hour conversational jog. Bearing in mind that everyone starts at a different level of fitness, and small, incremental progress is good!

3. Subtractive Movement

This is about being aware of our habitual movements and minimizing unnecessary compensation. For example, using your arms to push up from a chair. Do you need the boost, or are you unnecessarily straining your shoulders? These are things to notice.

4. Sociogenomic Axis

This refers to the social aspect of health. Whether in organized sports or dancing, playing with friends can also be beneficial to our overall well-being. In our current pandemic circumstances, having accountability partners to stay active is imperative.

5. The X-Moves

These are the moves that test your limits. The goals that may scare you a little and may even seem unattainable. They allow you to expand your idea of what your body is capable of, and experience gratitude for it. Climbing that mountain, running the half marathon, or being seen in a bathing suit, everyone has different lines that they feel they cannot cross that are worthy of working towards.

This is the buffet of options—feel free to take a bite. But instead of singular sophistication in one thing, become a generalist virtuoso in which you try new things.

The term ‘movement is medicine’, is used in the context of our musculoskeletal system, in keeping our bodies healthy, but it is a concept that can be expanded even further to the totality of the human experience as a way to intellectual curiosity, creativity, and emotional stabilization.

When we look at movement metaphorically, in terms of moving forward in life, we note that momentum and friction play a role in the obstacles that we face and the friction within our emotions as we move toward a goal. As we become more self-aware, we can see emotions as a way to inform us rather than simply reacting negatively toward them.

From a Brainfullness perspective, we can think about movement as anything that regenerates, optimizes, and allows you to organize your thoughts. While this is a brain-centric view, we can also include that the mind or soul is embodied, and that the mind emerges as the interaction in the brain, body, environment interface.

And, when we formulate a wellness model for ourselves where movement is embodied and our notion of health expanded, we can even recognize forgiveness as a way to moving on for inherent peace for ourselves.

Medicine is usually something that you take externally, but movement must become something that is your natural state and is generated internally. We are made to move. If you stop someone’s eyeballs from moving, they will go blind because they can’t perceive the world. Likewise, if we stop moving, we can gain no new perspective to view the world or to see the possibilities for our lives.

As the brain works as an action-perception system, movement is required if we are to reach the targets that we set to create a new reality for ourselves. Understanding how deliberately you can do your daily activities is going to be the spring board from which you can be more clear in your thoughts, more focused on your goals, and more able to move through life’s challenges with confidence and resilience.

People generally do things either out of fear or because they want to be more. Getting you to experience minimal disability and fluid movement would be a starting point I could help you with.

Dr. Tabrizi is a chiropractor, osteopath and a passionate member of both the local and scientific community, whose goal is to teach that the pursuit of optimal health and wellness is much more than being symptom-free. His practice is rooted in the philosophy of treating the person rather than just treating the illness or ailment. As a result of his interdisciplinary training, Dr. Tabrizi has developed a neuroscience-based therapeutic education approach to treating his patients, focusing on healing illness from a wider perspective, placing equal responsibility on patient as well as practitioner. Dr. Tabrizi aims to educate his patients and provide them with the tools and framework needed to integrate pain management and healthy living into the fabric of their everyday lives.

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