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Design vs. Function

Design vs. Function

“We need to understand there is a difference between what our bodies are designed to do and what we are doing with our bodies.”

Whoa. Do you ever hear something that makes you rethink everything that you know about anything?

We live in a world much different and more intelligently designed than what our bodies - at their most basic functions - are naturally made to do. We walk less and drive more; gather less and shop more; lounge more and move less. We lay on man-made couches, sit on hard chairs, wear high heeled shoes, ride bikes, and play sports. We stress more and for longer periods of time. We have access to constant stimuli and have an overwhelming amount of options at our fingertips.

Luckily, we are highly adaptable….but this can also work against us.

Our bodies are smart. If there is a task in front of us, we will find a way to do it. Unfortunately, issues can arise when the adopted postures and movements we have created from our lifestyles interfere with how we execute these tasks. If we can’t find movement in one area, we will borrow if from somewhere else. This, often times, ends up being at the sake of joints that shouldn’t necessarily be moving (repetitively) in the ways we are moving them.

Let’s say, for example, we go to pick something off the floor with hamstrings as tight as guitar strings. We run out of motion in our hips, so we may compensate by borrowing movement from our lumbar spine. According to the joint by joint approach, lumbar flexion should be limited (especially under load). Over time, this may cause injury or an array of other issues.

What if you are are a runner, but wear heels everyday for work? I mean, probably not right now…but we’ll keep it hypothetical. Over time, walking in heels may cause tight calves and a loss of dorsiflexion (pointing your toes up). When you go to run, a nonfunctioning foundation can cause “kinks” in your alignment than run all the way up the kinetic chain. This can eventually cause issues that present at the knee, hip, or back.

These examples and presentations can range from simple to complex, but it all comes back to one question: are we in alignment and moving our bodies enough in natural ways?

I, for one, can say no. I spend way too much time either folded over at a computer or standing in an extended posture….with no in between.

A few ways I work to combat this are: spending more time on the floor, spending more time barefoot, changing positions every so often, stretching in ways that are oppositional to the position I’ve been in most of the day, gently moving my joints through their full ranges of motions every day (“painting the surface of your joints with synovial fluid”, as Dr. DeBell says), spending more time in a parasympathetic or relaxed state, and walking with proper alignment as relaxed as possible. Depending on your lifestyle, incorporating some of this into your day can make a huge difference in how you feel.

It’s time we go back to our roots and move the way we are designed to move - our bodies will thank us!

Stephanie Spoto, CSCS

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