Move Fast For LifeAug 20, 2021
By Nick Sienkiewicz, DPT, CSCS
Life In The Fast Lane
Many people lose the regular stimulus of moving their body with speed once they get into adulthood after they’re finished with participating in organized sports. And when this occurs, people begin to gradually lose the ability to move their body or external objects in a fast manner. Yes, if you don’t use it, you lose it! Does this matter? It may not seem like it at first glance, but let me provide an example. Imagine you’re crossing the street. A car comes whizzing by out of nowhere. Your heart sinks. You have milliseconds to react. If you cannot move quickly to get your body out of the way, your life could be altered. Now of course, this situation is rare, but extreme situations like this illustrate the utter importance of the topic of this post: Preserving the ability to move fast throughout the lifespan.
So let’s consider a more realistic occurrence that may happen regularly to some people. You’re walking into another room of your house. Your foot clips the edge of the carpet, causing you to rapidly lose your balance. Your body must react quickly to catch yourself from hitting the ground and needing surgery to repair a broken wrist. As a child, teenager, and even young adult, this situation does not even trigger anxiety because catching yourself in these instances at these ages is usually subconscious and unproblematic. Your body still has the capacity to move quickly. However, as we continue to age and carry on with life no longer moving ourselves or objects in a fast manner, we start to lose that ability. Each day that passes, tripping on that carpet becomes more and more frightening and dangerous. Eventually, this leads to you getting rid of carpets. Then you develop the same fear with stairs, so you sell your house and move to a one story house. Yes of course, there is some natural physical decline that occurs with the aging process, but our society loves to use old age as the scapegoat for everything!
The human body has an amazing capacity for adapting to a variety of situations and circumstances, as long as you prepare it accordingly! If there are times when we need to move fast, we must regularly expose the body to moving fast. At ProForm, we believe this should be trained for the duration of the lifespan, so you don’t fall victim to one of the situations described above. Injuries tend to arise when people partake in an activity or movement that their body is not ready for, so why not prepare your body for as many situations as possible by training both fast and slow movements, and everything in between?
The beauty of this idea is that there’s a plethora of ways to carry out this regular exposure to moving fast. Here are just a few options that we love to implement and/or recommend at ProForm:
- Plyometrics: jumping, hopping, skipping, etc
- Medicine ball exercises
- Adult sport leagues
- Martial Arts
- Any recreational activity that you enjoy that includes at least occasional demand to move your body or an external object in a fast manner!
Now as with anything, you need to gradually begin to expose yourself to anything new. If you are just jumping right into any of these activities, either having never done them or not performed them in numerous years, start slow and progressively build up. All of these activities are scalable. For example, sprinting is one of the best movements humans can do regularly, as it builds full body strength and power, improves elasticity in our tendons and muscles, reinforces joints, and stimulates positive hormones in the body. However, if it has been decades since you last sprinted, going out today and performing some 100% maximum effort sprints is not a great idea at all. You may have to start with some easy jogging, gradually building up pace while working on good mechanics and technique. It may be weeks or even months before you get to all out effort consistently. The reality is that 50% of your top speed at this current time is likely a substantially faster pace than the movements you have been doing on a daily basis in recent years.
It is also important to consider that activities in which you’re moving fast and with power typically require more rest than other forms of physical activity in which you are moving slowly or at a moderate pace. Less is more! As long as you’re partaking in these types of fast movements on a regular basis, like once per week for example, you are already doing better than you were before! And as always, if you have any specific questions regarding this topic, please feel free to reach out to us at ProForm. We would love to help you get back to moving fast, so you can preserve this ability for the rest of your life!
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