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Variety is the Spice of Life

A painting of five people dancing in a ring
Dancing in a ring

Life is so much more interesting when we diversify our experiences, and having variety in our lives is beneficial for both the body and mind. One important way to add such variety is in movement.  With several hundred muscles and joints in our bodies, we are inherently designed to move in countless ways. This ability is very useful for adapting to different situations and tasks, but furthermore, movement is vital for maintaining healthy joints and fascia.

Fascia is connective tissue that encompasses the entire body, including bones, muscles, organs, and neurovascular structures. A large portion of fascia consists of water, and when fascia has been stagnant (i.e. stuck sitting at your desk all day), it dries up and becomes stiff. While fascia is considered continuous throughout our bodies, it’s possible for certain sections of it to become “locked” in either a shortened or a lengthened position. This can create imbalances in the body, putting increased strain on particular muscles and joints, and can potentially lead to pain, injury and arthritis.

Besides maintaining healthy fascia and joints, another benefit of diversifying our movement is optimizing one’s adaptability. You don’t want to be the super muscular guy you can’t even bend down to put his socks on, or the really flexible person who’s constantly rolling their ankles when they hike. Several prerequisites for our everyday activities include strength, mobility, balance, and endurance. Additionally, each of these four components can be further specified and trained (ie: strength-concentric, eccentric, isometric; mobility-straight plane, multi-planar, closed chain or open chained; balance-static, dynamic, reactive; endurance-high intensity/short duration, low intensity/long duration). Training our bodies to be well rounded and adaptive to different situations not only helps prevent injury, but allows us to enjoy different enriching experiences.

So if you’re already an active person, that’s great! If not, then get moving! Now think about the type of movement/exercise you do everyday and consider ways to change it up. If you prefer to walk for exercise, perhaps try walking on different terrains or varying your walking speed. If you’re a die-hard runner, make sure you add some low impact cross-training or exercises that involve lateral movements. If weightlifting is your thing, don’t forget to throw in some cardio and stretching. If you sit hunched at a desk all day, perhaps sitting hunched over on a bike isn’t the best workout to do after a long day in the office. Alternatively, you could counteract a day at a desk with plenty of thoracic mobility and chest opening exercises. Another great way to get moving is with fun activities that don’t feel like exercise, such as gardening and dancing, or by taking an exercise class with a friend. At our various PT360 locations, we offer a range of aquatic, yoga, Pilates, and senior fitness classes.

Remember, our bodies were made to move and staying active is an important part of having an enriching life. Don’t hesitate to speak with one of our therapists if you need guidance on how to safely expand your movement repertoire.