Build Your Squat Episode 4

Brilliant Friends,

You can use ballistic movements for progressing in strength training if you don’t have a gym. This is useful when normal body weight exercises are no longer difficult enough to further your strength.

Ballistic means that the movement is done with full force, accelerating your body or the weight. Rather than pushing at a steady rate, the method is explosive force. This engages more muscle and trains you to become stronger. The jump squat, the clap pushup, and the explosive pullup all have this quality.

Ballistic movements are effective when you have a limited amount of weight to lift. Rather than do twenty body weight squats, I can do three or four strong jump squats. This concept has been used by academies like StrongFirst to train fighters and soldiers. You can use it to gently build your own strength for the long term.

Choose ballistic movements that you can do with good form. You do not want to exert accelerating force on a poor movement. If any of the exercises I show you here are not doable, replace them with ones that are. Here are some possibilities:

  • Explosive pushups as high as you can go with good form
  • Clap pushups off an elevated platform or a wall
  • Rows on a horizontal bar

Grease the groove. Use two or three exercises per training session. Figure out how many strong repetitions you can do. Then do half of that. Take long breaks before coming back to the same movement. You can wait hours or half a day before the next set if you want. I sometimes call it a day at one set. It doesn’t matter. Do strong, perfect reps every time.

Last note. There’s no correct time of day to train. You’ll see me training at different times of the day. I love the morning, I love the evening, and I love the midday. Every part of the day is perfect to train. There’s a challenge with each part of the day. Warming up for a morning session, the heat of midday, hunger in the evening.

Thanks a ton for watching. I love knowing that this helps someone.

Live powerfully,

Steve

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Posture, Knots, and Slow Twitch Muscles

“I stand here on the summit of the mountain. I lift my head and I spread my arms. This, my body and spirit, this is the end of the quest.”

Posture is not just how you hold your shoulders and head. It’s a total body position. We just think of the shoulders and head because we sit all the time. When sitting, all you can see of a person is the top of his body. So we forget the rest of it.

When you move forward, backward, sideways, your body is constantly balancing its long self. It’s technically a couple of thin sticks with a really heavy bowling ball on top. Takes a lot of finesse to move that sort of thing through the world. The finesse is curated by an accumulation of nerves, bones, muscles, tendons, and ligaments. All of your body works to enable you to move through your environment with care.

Sitting in a chair, your body from the butt down is taken out of the equation. You leave it up to your torso, shoulders, and neck to balance your bowling ball. Because it’s been attached to your neck for so long, it’s hard to realize how hard it is to balance something of the weight of your head.

Your head weighs just around 11 pounds. Take a virtual, eleven pound bowling ball and stick it on top of a broomstick. Let’s say you’ve got really strong glue to hold it there. Now hold that broomstick just a few inches down from the ball, where your neck might be. Using the stick, virtually move the bowling ball forward, then backward, keeping it upright. Imagine the effort you need to keep it balanced.

Now tilt the bowling ball forward a few degrees. Hold it steady. You don’t need the real thing in your hands to know that this is quite a task. Now virtually hold it in that tilted position for the next two hours. Or four hours. Or however long it is that you sit at your desk at a time, you crazy human you.

Are your virtual hand muscles cramping yet? Sweating? Achy? How about your virtual forearms? Fatigued eh? You get the point. Your neck, shoulders, and torso work all day in this ridiculous balancing act as you sit slouched. What should normally be done in conjunction with your hips, legs, and feet, at least for a larger part of the day, you are doing with just your upper tippity top body.

No wonder there’s strain on the neck and back.

Your postural muscles, namely the neck, are mostly made of slow twitch fiber. Slow twitch muscle fiber gives small but steady output over sustained periods of time. This type of muscle is much more resistant to fatigue than fast twitch fiber, which gives big output for a short period of time.

Slow twitch fiber is ideal for sustained duties like maintaining posture. They take longer to get tired and only need a small amount of energy at a time. But fatigue is still possible. If slow twitch fiber is strained too long, it will fail. And when it fails, it fails hard.

Slow twitch fiber is known to crumple up into knots when it fatigues. Ever wonder why you keep getting those tight spots on your upper back? Do you sit at a desk for hours every day? Do you have a slouched posture? Do you drive for long distances or time? Think slow twitch fibers fatiguing. You’re hanging your bowling ball at an angle, and the strong glue that is your neck and upper back muscles are pulling back on it all day. At the same time, your chest, front shoulders, and biceps are getting a break. Except that they are resting in a shortened position, because your body is slumped forward.

Long term result: overstretched, fatigued neck and back; shortened, inflexible chest and shoulders. We could put a name to this specimen – the modern human.

Short term fix:

  • mobilize your chest, abdomen, biceps, and front shoulders
  • lay on a tennis or lacrosse ball on the floor and roll out knots
  • drink water and salt
  • breathe deep, relax your muscles

Long term fix:

  • adopt awareness of your posture – there is always something doing work
  • sit with your head balanced – may need to raise your screen and have your keyboard close (laptops are non-ideal)
  • time limit your sitting – does not work without an alarm
  • change your environment – sit on the floor, drive less, stand or squat when talking with someone

Live powerfully and live upright,

Steve


Rand, Ayn. (1999) Anthem. First published 1938.

MACKENZIE, B. (1999) Muscle Types [WWW] Available from: https://www.brianmac.co.uk/muscle.htm [Accessed 27/9/2016]

No Time To Train

The biggest reason most people stop going to the gym.

With anything you want to prioritize, the hard part is getting it to the top of your list of important things to do. Work. Love. Meals. Rest. Hobbies. Sleep. Sometimes it’s a wonder we ever used to go to the gym.

There’s a lot of cost in exercising. The gym membership. The changing into workout clothes, the drive there, the energy needed to do a workout, the drive back, and the shower, on top of everything else that needs to be done in the evening. Training is not happening because it’s hard.

Even with the benefits you’ve seen in the past, it’s hard to get yourself to do it regularly again. It’s hard for most people. That’s why you don’t see many fifty-year-old’s with six-pack abs. Let alone thirty-year-olds. Speaking of abs, let’s go back to the part about the benefits.

From the start, going to the gym was about the benefits. Having a trim belly, growing muscles, feeling strong, feeling your body thrive. Moving through space by your own strength, and speed, and agility.

With anything you prioritize, you think of the benefits of getting that thing done. And the benefits outweigh the hardship of doing it. Being fit is amazing, but after a while other things got in the way. Your body changed, and suddenly it feels like all that hard work in the past was for nothing. The hard work seems too hard to do now.

That’s because the benefits have faded. If you’re stuck in the mentality that you’ve already done it, and already reaped the rewards, you’re going to have trouble getting in the mindset that you are no longer in that same position of success. Yes, you were once athletic. You were once fit. You were once able to perform well.

But if it’s not true anymore, it’s important that you adjust yourself to that reality. This is the first step in getting to the place where you can dream of the benefits again. And you can dream and visualize and thirst for the success of fitness to the point that the hard work is tiny in comparison to the reward you will reap.

See yourself clearly as you are. See yourself clearly as you will be. See it, and see it, and see it. Think on it, dwell on it, dream of it. And commit to the hard work in between you and that success.

You’ll notice later, as you look back on this moment, that time has shaped itself around training.

Live powerfully!

Steve

The Brilliant Beast Blog Daily

Pillar of Strength

I was back in the gym this month for the first time in four months.

Something was funky about my squats. I kept wondering why it felt so tricky to keep my back firmly aligned. Things felt a little wobbly once I had loaded weight on the bar.

I was using torque from my feet, spreading the floor. I was pulling out on my knees. I was keeping my butt engaged. And my shoulders were back and down, tight. But I felt like the torque from my legs was bleeding out somewhere, not making it all the way up to the bar.

What was going on?

Then I got a gut feeling. Literally. My gut. I had forgotten all about belly pressure.

Abdomen Pressure

Your belly is a powerful element for exertion. It provides structure for the most strenuous power outputs in life. Lifting a heavy load on your shoulders, hauling something off the ground, and pushing a dead car down the road all require you to keep your belly tight for maximal effort.

It’s because your belly is critical in transferring power from the feet to the point of push or pull. How, when it’s the softest part of the body?

The softness is actually the key. Because your abdomen is flexible, it can act like a balloon. Suck in a deep breath, down to the diaphragm, and you find that you can tighten your belly down around that air. Now feel it. Rock hard.

Ever had your head bonked against your dad’s belly and wondered why it felt like a bowling ball? Well, he was utilizing abdominal pressure.

This balloon of pressure is the pillar through which power can transfer most efficiently from your hips up to your shoulders. When you have it firm, your belly is the connecting structure that keeps your torso sturdy.

With a deflated belly, you put most of the power transfer back on your spine. Not as rigid, not as effective.

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The Weight Belt

Now you might see the value in using a belt during your heaviest powerlifting reps. Wrap a normal belt around your midsection, just above the navel. Breathe in, down against your diaphragm, and push with your belly against the belt. Feel some power there?

I don’t think it’s advantageous to use the belt for lighter lifts. There is value in squatting and deadlifting without a belt. It helps you engage your core by itself, and you learn proper technique. Having a belt through all training, from the lightest weights, can make you depend on it and have a false sense of security.

On your heaviest lifts, though, it can be a powerful tool to scale your well-developed technique. It also helps you build your belly muscles by enabling a greater output from them.

Training Belly Pressure Without a Belt

Start without a belt, using the principle of abdominal pressure in training. Try it first without any weight on your shoulders. Do body weight squats, taking in a deep breath and pressing your belly against it, and hold it in until you squat and stand back up. Then release the breath.

Hold and release your breath for each rep. You may need to take a little breather in between. Don’t pass out. You need oxygen to stay conscious and to stay healthy.

By the way this is great training for low back issues as well. The stability from your belly pressure will help you maintain spinal alignment. Use the principle for daily activities, like lifting things off the floor, picking up grocery backs, and taking out the trash.

Ask me something. I’ll answer.

Live powerfully,

Steve

One Commonly Missed But Super Effective Stretch

I’m doing something different today. Below is the audio version of this letter. Let me know if this helps! Enjoy.

Calves.

Tight calves affect ankle mobility. That means that you will move with limited range in your ankles. When you walk, stand, or climb stairs, your ankles will not be able to fully flex the way they should. The design of your ankles enables forward and backward flexion of your shins above your foot. There’s also the lesser known ankle function, which is to let your shins rotate around in all directions on the horizontal plane.

To illustrate this, say you are standing on one foot. If a giant hand came down out of the sky and grab you by the shoulders, it should be able to move you around like a joystick without your foot moving at all. Your ankle should be able to let your shin rotate on it in this way. Feel free to stand and experiment with this concept.

When my ankles are restricted I walked funny. I land too heavily on my heels, and I feel like my steps are too short. This usually happens in the morning, after a long day of walking. My tissue gets tight if I don’t mobilize it at night before bed.

Tight ankles also give me trouble squatting. My feet tend to splay out, instead of staying in their initial forward position. This is because my ankles aren’t letting my shins rotate freely. Rather, my shins are causing my feet to pull out as I descend to the bottom of the squat.

In the ideal state, ankles are smoothly rotating joints between the shins and feet. They allow your foot to stay planted on the ground, while the rest of your leg bends. When you squat, your foot is in position the entire time. As you lower, and your knees pull out, your shins will tilt slightly outward. With mobile ankles, your feet will stay planted and you will build up torque for the upward push. This results in a powerful stand, jump, or lift.

When walking, your mobile ankles will also allow your feet to stay where you placed them. You will be able to touch down your heel, blade, ball, and toes in a forward position. As your body glides forward, your foot will be able to stay in place, and your leg will rotate inward as it ends up behind you.

Compare this to a stiff-ankled walk, where your foot can’t stay planted, and your stepping leg actually rotates outward as it ends up behind you. You’ll see the duck-footed walk with tight ankles, usually accompanied by tight upper quadriceps. It’s usually easier to walk with toes pointing outward when your legs are all stiff in this manner.

So what’s the problem with duck-footed walking? Long term, it leads to pronated feet, super inflexible ankles, agitated knees, tight quads, and tight hips. The moment you need to lift something heavy, leap to catch a falling object, or miss a step on the sidewalk, can result in a pulled muscle, ligament, or tendon. Happens all the time.

Short term, you have ineffective movement. Your body design gives you better propulsion and strength with straight feet, smooth ankles, correctly aligned knees, and supple quads and hips. This will pass on love to your spine and shoulders, which depend in large part on the lower portion of your body for proper mechanics. After all, when you walk, jump, bend, or lift, the ground is your source of push. And your feet, through your ankles, are your direct relationship to that ground.

Mobilize your ankles with calf stretches. Two minutes on each foot should be good, once a day. You can catch me on Snapchat doing some of this in the evenings. Please let me know if this helps!

Live powerfully,

Steve

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The Brilliant Beast Blog Daily

Summer’s Dusk, Dogs, and the Travel Bug

August has passed the seasonal baton to September. Nights are cooler in California. A northwestern wind continues to breeze through Silicon Valley. The air feels a bit drier in my nose.

The trees have been brushed with a layer of crimson. Just lightly over the tops, the paintbrush of fall is sweeping over our green trees.

In the afternoon, the sun is out and it’s beautiful. It makes everything it touches amazing. It glows and flows into everything else. The dark spots on the dogs’ coats absorbs its energy as we go around the neighborhood. When I rub them down later I feel the radiating heat from their furry backs.

The days are still too hot for our canine companions to do much other than pant. The last couple of weeks have been a battle with fleas for them. I’m learning the necessity of routine and rigor in keeping pests away. We’re just coming to the tail end of the fight, excuse the pun.

We’re going to be in California for the next few weeks, at least. The next leg of travel will most likely be through the rest of southeast Asia that we haven’t been able to visit. We don’t know when that will be yet. I’m grateful to my mom for letting us stay with her during this time.

For now, it’s time for rest, meditation, and exercise. It helped to have some strength built up for the traveling we just did, and I want to continue this cycle of building and then losing through using. Naturally, without regular gym access I’m going to lose the full capacity of my strength. But it’s nice to start from a place of a bit of surplus strength and muscle.

We can plan more vigorous trips at the beginning, and head for more developed and less taxing places later. Seems natural enough to me.

The one hack I’d like to keep developing is retaining strength and mobility through travel. Honing in on a reliable and effective diet when away from home is essential. But there’s also supplementation that helps, and I want to figure out better ways to pack and sustain our supply. If you have tips from experience I’d love to hear from you.

Outside of gym training, I think it’s the perfect time of the year to hike. It’s cool enough in the morning for the exertion, but not so cold as to require long pants. We just may go the next chance we get.

Live powerfully,

Steve

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See the dogs on Snapchat!

The Brilliant Beast Blog Daily

The Mighty Strength Training Recovery Tool

Is sleep.

How I yearn for that delicious, thick crust, the crumbling surface of sleep from which I emerge well rested. I feel like a soggy pie dough, not quite done, damp and tender. I want that oven, set to the right temperature, and to be snug in there until I am golden brown, toasty, and fully set.
I’m still feeling significant soreness everywhere. I completed a second training session two days ago. After five months away from the gym, my strength is not what it used to be. I’m starting the 5×5 powerlifting progression again. The weights I’m using are nearly at ground zero. No problem. I did the squat, bench press, and deadlift.
My mobility is better, though, as I’ve been practicing that regularly while traveling. With the weight low, I was able to maintain good form through all the lifts. I want to move grains of sand with finesse, not die trying to push a mountain.
I can hardly sit on my butt without wincing. The first couple of sessions after a training stall are usually followed by exaggerated soreness, but recovery is taking longer than I expected.
I looked up my old notes on recovery, and laughed. The recovery tool I listed as number one was sleep. It was funny because it’s so basic and so true.
It’s funny that I can have the best food, supplements, and ample mobility exercises, and still not feel close to a hundred percent without sleep. When I sleep, it’s like preparing for war. I take my dose of magnesium, vitamin C, and kelp. I make sure my grounding mat is plugged in and positioned at my feet. I make sure the blinds are closed away from me, so that the sun doesn’t leak through at an angle in the morning. I try my best to keep the room cool. After meditation and journaling, and reading, I finally plug my ears and cover my eyes.
Right now I don’t have the luxury of all that. I discovered that ear plugs cause a little allergic reaction and make me cough. The sun comes up early. Dogs bark. So I need to make do. Still figuring things out.
There is contradictory research out there about sleep and physical recovery. Animals were observed to sleep longer after exercise. People were found to have different hormone responses to exercise, which affected sleep quality and duration. Those who had steady adrenal function also had longer stage 3 (deepest non-REM) sleep. And the few that had changed adrenal function had the same or shorter stage 3 sleep. There seemed to be a compensation between sleep and adrenal function.
But another study showed that people who exercised in the morning did not sleep more or less, while people who exercised in the evening slept more. This led to a new hypothesis that recovery might also take place when a person is awake.
For me, it could be the perception of soreness and tiredness that lingers without ample sleep. Whether it’s psychological or physiological, it makes no difference to me. I need deep sleep, a lot of it, to recover from training.
The bake of life. Sleep. When the juices have time to flow, growth hormone, testosterone, vitamins, minerals, fluids reach each and every cell with nourishment and repair and improvement. The kneading, cutting, and garnishes of life come together in sleep.
Ah, sleep, I will find you!
Let’s do ourselves a favor. Sleep the deepest possible sleep you can tonight. See how it feels in the morning.
Live powerfully,
Steve
P.S., anyone know a good way to keep out noise other than foam ear plugs?
Sleep Hacks
Research

The Brilliant Beast Blog Daily

Mobilizing Out of Inflammation

I was going to the gym today but almost canceled on myself.

I had made the wretched choice of eating a donut last night. When I do such things, I didn’t give enough credit to the consequences. Sure, I get some after effects, I told myself. Little achiness, brain fog. Funny how time befuddles memories.

It was an inflammation bomb. First came the wheat coma. I was reading and had to drag myself to bed, it was so bad. I fell into instant sleep for an hour, and woke feeling hungover and tender. My trap and shoulder blade area were tight in a knot, so I rolled it out on a lacrosse ball.

Did some deep breathing, drank my vitamin C and magnesium mix, and tried to sleep. No go.

My stomach was upset. I got up and had some kombucha. I thought of taking charcoal, but didn’t want to absorb the magnesium that I had already taken. Lesson learned next time.

It took me a few hours of reading to get to bed. When I woke this morning, I still felt hungover. Butter coffee and some eggs helped. I was determined to go to the gym today, and I gave myself a couple of hours to warm up.

Well, when I went outside to check my squat position, I was surprised to find myself so kinked up. Thus it was:

 

This was class one tightness, inflammation to the max. Everything felt rusty and I could barely get down into the squat and hold it.

Feet splayed, torso wrapped over my knees. And really, really tight in the hips. It was time for some major mobilization.

Hip Mobility

First the hips. I’m jamming down with my pelvis to get into the tight areas and loosen them up. I also extend my front leg to get in deeper on the tissue near the knees. Try and you’ll feel it:

Ankle Mobility

Ankles flex through the calves. So I work on the calf and achilles tendon. Keeping my leg rigid at the knee and hip, I lean hard and hold for a minute or two. Sliding over to either side helps to mobilize in more directions.

 

I did a squat retest at this point, meaning I got down in the squat to see if there was any difference. The first photo shows me holding my hands up overhead. I’m doing this to test my shoulders, to see if they are mobile enough for me to hold this position. Pretty tight here, as you can see I’m not holding them in line with my torso:

 

My hips were feeling smoother, and I was able to get down with feet straighter forward. My torso was more upright, but there was still a bit of tightness holding my midback in a curve.

Shoulder Mobility

I addressed my shoulder mobility to open up the chest and torso. This can help with keeping the upper body straight during the squat. I’m doing an exercise called shoulder dislocations here:

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Geez was I tight. At this point I was about to push my training session back one day. With bad mobility, heavy lifting is not advantageous. Better to wait until I’m able to get into good positions. Squat retest after shoulder dislocations.

Functional squat depth for weight lifting, side and front:

 

And a full squat:

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I wanted to test my weightlifting position, in addition to the full squat. I don’t go all the way down when I’m loaded with weight.

You can see I’m able to get down with my feet pointed forward. My torso is not perfectly upright, but it’s much more mobile and no longer glued to my knees.

After much tweaking, I actually freed myself up enough to train.

Add me on Snapchat to hear about the training session. Yea, the picture’s silly.

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Live powerfully,

Steve

The Brilliant Beast Blog Daily

What I’m Sitting On Right Now

Hey guys,

Hope you’re having a great weekend. Here’s something that’s been changing my life for the last five years.

I’m sitting on a mat that’s plugged into the grounding plug of a wall outlet. It’s transferring earth’s free electrons to my body. As long as my skin is in contact with it, I’m at a near earthing voltage.

Connecting to the ground is known as earthing.

Free electrons act as antioxidants without the metabolic side effects of food-derived or body-produced sources. Antioxidants are involved in diffusing oxidizing agents that cause damage, both intended and unintended, at the molecular level. Free electrons travel through to body and affect everything from muscle training recovery, infection response, and DNA transcription.

Most of us sleep on beds in rooms isolated from the earth. There’s no electron flow to our bodies during the night, a crucial recovery time. During sleep we go into healing mode and rebuild damaged tissues, fight infection, and process new experiences from the day. It’s important that we have free mobile electrons flowing to our tissues, cells, and DNA during this process.

I’ve been sleeping with this earthing mat at the foot of my bed for the past five years, consistently. When I’m not outside, this is my access to the earth. It’s comfortable, with the hard-to-find conductive cover included in the link below. When I’m at home reading or writing inside, I bring the mat with me.

The subjective results for me are clear. My sleep is deeper, I feel more relaxed, healed, and richer in mind when I wake. I feel less inflammation. For these benefits, I even traveled with it for the past four months. I earthed in my sleep through Indonesia, Thailand, and Korea!

Once in a while, I’m not able to use it at night. This is usually due to a faulty wall outlet. The kit comes with a tester plug to tell you if the outlet is grounded. An ungrounded outlet is devastating! When I don’t sleep with my mat, I’m more tired because sleep is more shallow. If I have a really tough day, physically or emotionally, and don’t have my earthing mat, I get symptoms like allergic coughing, achy joints, and fuzzy-headedness. I try to make up for the lost time earthing by getting barefoot outside for as long as possible.

The difference from earthing is huge. It’s strange that this simple mat can make such a change. It doesn’t heat up, create crazy vibrations, or do anything but transfer free electrons from the ground to your skin. Even if it’s just a placebo effect, I would still use it for the rest of my life. But I am convinced from my five years of using it that this is not a placebo.

No doubt, being outside barefoot is the absolute best, most direct way to ground yourself. But we haven’t found a comfortable way to sleep on the bare ground yet (just wait). So night time leaves a big earthing void. In my experience, the earthing mat is the next best thing.

Check it out, look through my posts here to learn more, and take the leap!

How earthing balances the immune response – collection of research on earthing

Earthing on the road – earthing in southeast Asia
Explore barefoot – earthing in Arizona and Utah
Earthing, rain or shine – on grounding, lightning, and earthing in Los Angeles

Take barefoot walks to relieve stress – how I dissolved residual work anxiety

Live powerfully,

Steve

Earthing Universal Mat with Cover Kit

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Descend Like A Panther

A very random, but hopefully useful, bit on movement. Stairs.

I take the subway everyday in Seoul. Train boarding platforms are two or three, sometimes up to six floors underground. So there’s a lot of staircases.

Most of them are automated, AKA the escalator. Some of them are not. So everyone who takes the rail here has lots of time on stairs.

Going up the stairs is obviously the dreaded part for many people. It’s hard, it’s hot in the summer, and there’s hundreds of people crowded against each other. But in a physiological sense, going up is usually the same every time. It’s like doing a bunch of one-legged squats. Going down is the tricky part.

I noticed that sometimes going down stairs is easy and effortless. It feels like I’m gliding down. I’m quick and quiet and smooth, like Bagheera. And then other times, it’s choppy. My feet are stomping, my body is jarring, and I can’t seem to get in a good rhythm. I’m the Tin Man before Dorothy pumps oil into his joints. So what’s the deal?

It’s all about centering. I wrote you about staying close to the center, in a meta sense. This is the physical counterpart to that. Whether we stand, squat, or deadlift, we’ve got to stay close to our center of gravity and balance for optimal movement. When we’re walking, running, or going down stairs, though, we have to keep that center just ahead of us.

Take walking, for example. Try to walk slowly with a perfectly upright posture. Head above shoulders above hips above feet. Try to speed up the walk a bit. You’ll start to feel awkward. If you’ve ever dreamed of running through invisible molasses, it’s kind of like that. Hard to propel yourself forward.

Lean slightly forward, and you feel the balance shift forward. It’s a natural thing we do. When we run it’s more extreme. And when we go down stairs, it’s also the same. But I seem to have trouble with this every once in a while. And when I look around, I see a lot of people with the same issue: stompy, jarring, awkward movement down the stairs.

It’s probably because we don’t have much practice on stairs. I started to pay attention to my body as I descended into the stations. If I leaned forward with my upper body and kept my head in line with my spine, I noticed things got more natural. My steps were timed better, I was landing with the ball of my foot rather than the heel, and I was able to engage into the next step down more easily. The panther was back.

When I forgot this, if I was tired, or distracted, I would find myself sloppily crashing down again. Feet slapping against the steps, hips jarring, and timing all off. If I examined myself, I would find my head and shoulders too far back, as if I were still walking on flat ground. Readjusting to lean slightly forward not only fixed my mechanics, it also caused me to be mentally engaged with the task of going downstairs. Being present to our movement is just as important as being physically strong or nimble.

And this last part is important to the long game. We know about the geriatric population being prone to falls. Well, guess what. We are all part of the geriatric population, now or later. I think younger people are just lucky that they are slightly more nimble, slightly quicker and avoid disasters when they aren’t paying attention. We all have the opportunity to develop better movement skills.

Be mindful of your body mechanics the next time you approach a staircase. No matter how big or small it is, make each step smooth and quiet. Take each step down with intention. This counts for sidewalk curbs as well. When crossing the street, make that first step off the curb with focus. Our attention to the smallest things scales to the biggest things in life.

Live powerfully,

Steve

The Brilliant Beast Blog Daily