Traveling far means a lot of sitting. At least today it does for most people. In the near future, things will change. We’ll be more mobile while moving. Trips will be shorter with faster transport.
Simply existing today means a lot of sitting. Regardless, it’s important to stay limber. All that sitting tightens up joints, which tends to tighten up the spirit.
There are two key body positions we rarely assume. The full squat and a full overhead arm extension are, at least in the U.S. and other “westernized” places, less utilized than they should be.
Here’s why we should get in these positions, and how I limber up my shortened tissues to engage those postures.
The Full Squat
First and foremost, the full squat means our hips are fully opened up, femurs up next to the ribs. This engages and stretches the low to mid back.
The ankles are also opened up at the Achille’s tendon, shins close to vertical and even forward. Knees are fully flexed.
The full squat brings the body to a point of full expression, although you’re actually compacted into a smaller form. But with all joints fully flexed, ligaments, tendons, and fascia are actually lengthened and exercised. Joints will also fill with fluid and rejuvenating nutrients when fully flexed. Circulation improves because tissues expand all the way and then contract, stimulating blood flow.
The end of our digestive system is designed to excrete waste in the full squat position. You may feel a good urge after regularly being in the squat.
Let’s do it.
Sit in a full squat, as low as you can go. Start with your feet pointed forward as straight as possible. They may turn out a bit as you go down, which is normal if you don’t regularly work on ankle mobility. But keep your feet anchored and try to keep them forward as you lower.
You might want to hold onto a post or something sturdy as you go down. It helps to flex the butt and turn out at the thighs. Keep an outward tension on your knees. With feet forward, you should feel the ankles building up torque as you go down.
Maintain the bottom position. Hold for three minutes, or before pain. Breathe, keep the outward tension in the knees, and keep your head in line with your spine.
Careful on the rise; if you feel light headed at the top, breathe deep and stay balanced until it passes. I’ve held squat position for almost ten minutes, and upon standing had hallucinations and nearly fainted.
That’s the extreme for me. You may be able to hold longer. Just make sure to be in the squat position at some point during each day.
The principle is the same as with the squat. Reaching to the end of your range in the shoulders and upper back stretches the tissues and increases circulation. I feel a refreshing surge of blood to my head after this position.
Think about it – how often are your arms actually fully over your head, extended straight into the air, locked at the elbows? To some people this may actually be considered rude in public. Well, let’s be polite to our bodies.
Start with the same stance as for the squat. Feet pointed forward, legs and butt flexed, femurs turning outward, feet anchored and keeping torque in the ankles.
Torso should be straight, belly tight, ribcage down in a natural position.
Interlock your fingers in front of you, turn your palms out, and keep your elbows locked. Slowly bring up your arms.
Keep elbows locked all the way to the top. Even when they’re above your head, check again to see if your elbows are completely locked. You might have to flex your triceps.
Try to keep your fingers interlocked. Mine loosen up at the pinkies because my wrists are not that flexible yet.
You may feel some cracking and popping in the neck, shoulders, and upper back. I even look for this. Sometimes I twist and turn slightly at the torso, tilt my head side to side, or readjust my stance.
I often feel tightness in the chest, armpits, and back. These bigger muscles can really pull down on my shoulders, neck, and head, causing tension and favoring anxiety. Reaching overhead for a few moments revitalizes my body’s full range.
Keep your whole body tight, from feet to fingers, as you hold your arms above your head. Gently release after a few moments, breathing, and let your arms down to the sides.
It doesn’t cost much to stop and do these exercises. So unless you’re on a low movement diet, feel free to continue to get into these positions throughout the day. It’s particularly helpful in between intervals of sitting or extended walking.
Physical freedom invites freedom of mind. Feeling tight and pulled down and inward can lead to the same condition within your mind. Creativity, positive thoughts, and happiness get squeezed when we feel tense and restricted.
Use this simple hack to stay limber of body and mind.