Laying the Groundwork - Kneeling

Laying the Groundwork is a presentation of how I conceptualize movement.  My intention is to share the tools and methods I use in hopes that it helps others build their own culture of movement. There's nothing magic here, just an in-depth look at basic movement that through practice will yield greater awareness, foster new connections, and set the stage for substantial growth.  Movement is a gift -  value it, enjoy it, and share it.

Spend less time in a chair. Spend more time on the ground everyday. Stay feeling young.

These are the current results of my 30-years and running longitudinal study into how to slow the aging process. I’m nowhere close to all the answers (as if you ever can be), but you don’t need a lifetime or empirical evidence to recognize that diverse movement and stretching is really good for your body. Obviously, I’m not really breaking any new ground just replicating some of the "studies” produced by movement disciplines for centuries. All plagiarism aside, I’m confident that this simple advice this will work wonders for most people and it’s why I start the majority of clients with ground-based movements. The practice is simple, feels great, and yields amazing results…if you can just weather the storm of social conformity.

Social conformity is adherence to the norms for actions and behaviors that are deemed acceptable social behavior. If you get a group of people together a general consensus about how to act is going to form - it is what is.  However, our cultural norms are an odd paradox,  pro-fitness but still quite movement phobic. That is to say, diverse movement (outside the places designated for movement) is borderline taboo. Example: let’s say while at Starbucks looking for my caffeine fix, but there are 8 people ahead of me ordering milkshakes for breakfast.  So, until there's a coffee-only line, I'll wait patiently while in a deep squat.  All kinds of red flags go off for anyone paying half-attention as they try to makes sense of this glitch in the Matrix (children give you this priceless "WTF" look, try it).  Even places we designate for fitness are subjected to movement norms. Plodding away on the elliptical while mindlessly watching some TV junk food = completely acceptable. Performing a super set of crawling and climbing / hanging will likely draw some stares, complaints, or the dreaded "lunk alarm" if you find yourself at Planet Fitness.

Let me be clear, I’m not advocating for “that guy/girl” in the gym who is clearly just peacocking.

For clarification, if you’re that asshole who is seal walking with the ab wheel on your feet and a pair of 50lb dumbbells in your hands - you’re just peacocking. Scram.

We’ve all seen this and are so offended that we never want to be perceived as the peacock / show off / weirdo / klutz / nerd / anything different.  But this isn't high school anymore. Now we're talking about your health, your longevity, your capacity for happiness. If that’s not worth daring to be different, you can always just jump off the proverbial bridge - everyone else is doing it.  Let us know if there’s still a cool-kids-only table at the nursing home.

Bottom line: I've been the conformist. I've been the peacock. And now I'm just into finding the methods that keep me feeling great.  All were necessary steps in my process, and this series will help you along yours.  We'll continue the groundwork series with movement variations from a kneeling position.  As with the side sit, this is simply another foundational base of support for humans - very stable and versatile for movement.  Ok, so maybe you’re thinking “right, no big deal”.  And you wouldn’t be wrong, this is no big deal.

But how long could you sit here before your knees or ankles start complaining? What would your body tell you about these movements? Kneeling is another prime example of a basic position that we might gloss over...take a closer look.

There’s a lot of goodness in the basics and the basics are what better movement all about. No peacocking necessary; these movements are effective but still pretty unassuming. Try them out and see what your body has to say.

The video demonstrates a few of my favorite variations - stepping out, rotations, transitions to squat, knee-to-ground touches. I use these movements to condition my lower body, primarily knees and feet, to withstand a higher degree of loading across a greater range of motion. That’s because I’m a movement nerd, but I recommend other people do these for a few reasons.

  1. Very low learning curve. The movements are simple, quick, and fun.
  2. Scalable & accessible.  Variations can be executed slowly or dynamically, assisted or unassisted.
  3. This is a common position! We can use it in many practical instances if we are conditioned to the specific demands.

Kneeling easily transitions to crawling, standing, side sit, or others. The many movement variations flow into each other unlocking new opportunities and yielding fuller ranges of motion. The pay-off will be a body that is more adapted to dealing with mechanical stress, one that is free of chronic pain, one that is more capable of playing with sons/daughters, nieces/nephews, grandchildren, one that is simply better equipped for an awesome human experience. Until next time, friends - move like no one is watching.