16 August 2019

A book I loved #2: Movement Matters by Katy Bowman

This book that connected what I do with my body to the world around me. It pointed out what should have been obvious: If I outsource the energy to something else, I miss out on the movement. I therefore get stiffer and weaker. After doing this often enough, I now NEED to outsource the energy to be able to do achieve the task.

Eh?

For example, when I use an electric beater instead of a whisk (a fork), I outsource the energy to whip and beat. When I sit in an armchair instead of on the floor, I outsource the energy that I'd otherwise use to keep myself upright. When I drive to the shops, I mess up an ancient system that went like this: Feel hungry. Move body to obtain food. Eat food.

But then what? Why does this matter?



For a start, I decry drooping arms, flabby belly, tight hamstrings and a sore back, and I put it down to inevitable aging instead of accumulated years of under-use. (Actually I don't, because this book shifted the gears in my brain which allowed me to shift how I use my body.)

Katy Bowman is the first person to truly open my eyes to this way of thinking. She's let me see the shortcuts I always want to take, such as taking a backpack to the shops instead of a carry bag - yes, the backpack uses less energy! It is more convenient and comfortable! It uses fewer parts of me.

Because it's not just energy expenditure that we instinctively try to cut corners on. It's moving the full range of our body. When we sit in chairs, we spare our joints from using their full range of mobility. And soon that full range is gone. When we never vault over a fallen tree, soon our shoulders can't take the weight or the torque any more. When our bare feet don't regularly mould to uneven ground, our feet grow stiff and weak so we need shoes to support them. When we sit the washing basket on a table instead of the ground when we hang out washing, we don't stretch our hamstrings as we bend down to pick up the garments.

Then we tax the environment again

After many years of under-use, we end up hunched, wearing orthotics, with restricted movement and pain. Having taxed the environment to avoid the movement in the first place (cars, shoes, furniture, appliances, etc.) we compensate for the limitations by taxing it further (orthotics, hospital beds, wheelchairs, mobility scooters, surgery, painkillers).

The best gift I got from this book was the power to shunt away the thoughts "It's too hard; I can't be bothered; how can I do this more efficiently; but it's so comfortable". I am happier with relying more on my own body instead of props and aids - and my back pain is gone. Now, a woollen blanket spread on a wooden floor in front of a roaring fire seems like a blissful place of rest to me.

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