In language there’s a thing called Active vocabulary – it’s estimated that when learning a new language it’s possible to get by with as few as 5000 words, and do very well on around 10,000.
To put this into perspective, there are over a million words in the English language, and Shakespeare alone invented around 1700 new words!
But what if our active vocabulary of movement is reduced to sitting, lying and walking from a to b, for a long period of time?
Many of us could get by just fine from day to day without a great deal of different movements, so why is it so important to expand our array of movement patterns?
When our bodies aren’t allowed to express themselves in movement, reduced function is likely to follow, and it won’t be too long before structural changes happen within our bodies, which can be difficult to undo.
Without practice to increase our movement vocabulary, even seemingly fit and active individuals are likely to develop some significant limitations in their bodies that make them noticeably different to those exposed to a wide array of movements.
Experiencing the full range of our joints, and doing new and unusual movements can have great value to our physical and overall health.
Here are just a few of the benefits of including varied movements in your training
The structures of our bodies are set up for an almost infinite variety of movements.
It’s a great idea to consider this in training because people are often very strong in linear movements, but when they are asked to do anything out of the ordinary, or move ‘outside the box’, they find it very tough.
In other words, it’s possible to have a great bench press but still have a lack of ‘real life’ strength.
‘Use it or lose it’ holds a lot of truth where movement is concerned.
Even certain exercise programs could be considered pretty close to sedentary when you look at the anatomy, and consider the whole scope of movement your body is capable of.
People can lose ranges of motion at joints for the simple reason that they never go there, and this is likely to limit their options further down the line when they want to pursue new challenges or hobbies.
Experiencing a wide variety of positions and motions helps our soft tissues and joints to safely play their part in the overall effect of movement patterns.
Our bodies are constantly laying down new tissue in accordance with the forces we put through them from day to day. More movements means more reinforcement of our body’s structures.
We are sometimes warned to avoid or fear certain positions, and whilst we must take care, it can be safer in the long run to move into the unknown than to create an overall apprehension about exploring all of the possibilities that nature intended for us.
Trying new and ‘unusual’ movements is a great way to ensure that our bodies are able to protect us, when we are presented with new challenges.
Movement training allows us to work on multiple components of fitness at the same time: Practicing complex movements usually involves using big muscle groups. This can quickly call upon our CV fitness, and also enhance our mobility work by creating trust and familiarity with various positions in space.
Since our abdominal muscles link our upper and lower bodies, your core training is covered too: the more creative we are with our movements, the greater the number of ways we will call upon these muscles.
Ground movements such as crawling and handbalancing, and hanging variations are a great way to vary the emphasis in core training, as well as teaching a connection between the hands, feet and core, which can have great value in sports performance.
There are huge benefits to finding the right balance between structure and fun/variety in training.
Even a perfectly designed exercise program can become much less relevant if you don’t enjoy it and want to make it part of your life.
Aiming for new skills is a great way to add variety, and indirectly effect factors like strength, body composition and muscle tone.
Whatever your goals in training, it’s a great feeling to master a new skill, and feel the freedom of new movements or ones you may have lost somewhere along the road.
Movement games are great to play with friends any time, and kids love them too. A challenge for you- try and play the game below without smiling!
If you want to take it a step further, contact us for your own program containing movement progressions tailored to you.
Adding to your movement vocabulary is not only challenging, but also allows a real expression of the movements your body has evolved to do.