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Your Healthy Family: Simple ways to improve mobility

Posted at 8:44 AM, Aug 23, 2023
and last updated 2023-08-23 08:44:40-04

The things we have today, like transportation and food delivery services, certainly make our lives more convenient, but the downside is that we don't move our bodies the way nature intended. This can lead to obesity, stiffness and fatigue. But mobility experts say there are ways to get your body working like a well-oiled machine.

"The easiest way to think of this is, if you want your brain to work really well for a really long time, you have to be in motion. And that doesn't mean exercise, it just means movement," Dr. Kelly Starrett said.

He and his wife, Julie Starrett, have built a wellness empire by training elite athletes. They wrote a book called "Built to Move" and have tips to improve mobility.

They say to start with a quick mobility assessment called the "Sit and Rise Test."

"Cross one foot in front of the other and sit down on the floor in a cross legged position. Now, from the same cross-legged position, rise up off the floor," Dr. Kelly said.

Dr. Kelly said all humans were designed to sit and rise like this. It indicates the state of our hip mobility. If you can’t do it at first, it's something you can work up to with practice.

"We really see hip mobility as a vital sign. In countries where people sit on the ground, sleep on the ground, the fall risk in the elderly drops to almost zero," Julie said.

To improve our results, the Starretts say 30 minutes of simply sitting on the floor will dramatically improve our ability to move.

"We know that sitting on the ground is like a secret weapon in terms of making you feel better and rewilding and restoring your range of hip motion," Dr. Kellys aid.

He said watching TV is a great chance to log some floor time.

"And that can be in any way you like, whether that's siting criss-cross applesauce, cross legged, legs out to the side, legs out in front of you," he said. "It loads those tissues so that your body starts to reinforce it. It tells your brain this is an important position for me so when that position comes up, you're going to have access to it."

Julie used a fall as an example.

"The number one reason people end up in nursing homes is they fall and can't get up off of the ground," she said.

Once you've loosened up after a few days, the Starretts say it's time to go the next level with hip mobilizations. There are a couple of rules.

"One, you should always be able to take a full breath in anything you're doing. And two, we want you to be able to contract, be able to show control in those positions," Dr. Kelly said.

For the Elevated Pigeon, place your leg on a chair or table while stretching your back leg. The Hamstring Floss is done by laying on the ground while lifting a knee to your chest. Work on it slowly while breathing, and throw in some muscle contractions, 5 minutes on the left leg and 5 minutes on the right.