This is part of a series of posts I’m writing this year to help you maximize the movement potential you get out of your every day life, no extra time required. You can also check out 5 easy ways to move more and how to hack your office chair for more ideas.
I’m fresh off a very intensive 10 days of movement training as both a student and a teacher. It’s such a joy for me to have these opportunities to immerse myself in learning and growing. I love that it’s also an investment – the insights I gain through these weeks are something I can then share with my people. So here goes!
It’s interesting to me that in this round of training, the moments that left the deepest impressions were not the classes and the exercises, but the time I spent outdoors, moving and spending time with friends and colleagues. As much as I love a good exercise class, the outdoors walks were definitely the most fun, engaging, and mechanically nutritious experiences.
Just as I realized in Nicaragua that spending time in a chair-sitting culture can really limit my movement, I realized that spending time with curious, exploratory and adventurous outdoor movers can really spark my own creativity and engagement with movement. When was the last time you climbed on a giant log, balanced on a natural teeter-totter, or took off your shoes and experienced the feeling of the ground under your feet?
All of these things are easier to do when you’re on an amazing beach, but there’s a lot you can export to your own life in the real world, and that’s what I wanted to share today. Because adding movement nutrition to your life doesn’t necessarily take extra time!
When we think about movement, we don’t often consider texture as a variable. Distance and speed are usually all we talk about, but it’s very different to cover 5 km on flat and level pavement than it is on uneven natural surfaces. Your body experiences many more angles and planes of movement on a natural surface, and if you mostly walk on pavement, you will really notice your feet and legs tiring after a long walk in nature.
Adding More Texture To Your Life
By playing with the surfaces that you stand on and walk across, you can easily add more Vitamin Texture to your day. No extra time required.
- Leave a few pillows, bolsters or blankets on the floor and stand or walk on these less stable surfaces when you’re going about your every day activities. You can do this with dirty laundry, too, but it might not be great for your clothes 🙂
- Spend a few minutes walking barefoot in your backyard every day – rain or shine. Explore the differences between deck planking, lawn, fresh soil, mulch, gravel, rocks, snow, ice or anything else you find. And yes, I said snow and ice. A couple of minutes on cold stuff won’t hurt you and you may even find you adapt to it fairly quickly.
- Get a cobblestone mat or a rock box and stand (or squat) on it when you’re cooking or checking your email.
- Whether you’re sitting or standing at a desk, you can grab a rock or a small ball and drape your foot over it.
- As at home, standing on pillows, blankets or other objects/fabrics can create new loads when you’re at your standing desk.
Out In The World
- Stop walking on the sidewalk so much! What other surfaces can you find that will give your body different textures? Just a note though – walking on natural surfaces can be intense. It’s best done in minimal shoes or barefoot, after you’ve already done some correctives to help mobilize and strengthen your feet. Start with small doses and increase with care. Walking on uneven surfaces in big clunky shoes can do more harm than good because without your feet supple and involved, it will tend to overload your joints.
- Don’t forget that texture counts for your hands, too. If you’ve begun a hanging practice, make sure to spend some of your hanging time on trees instead of just on manmade surfaces. You’ll quickly notice the difference the surface makes!
- On your walks, take detours through every playground or park that you can. Try taking off your shoes and spending a few minutes walking barefoot on the many different textures you can find.
I love the different sensations of walking on natural surfaces. Of course, sand is a favourite, but I actually love walking on rocks and small gravel now too. Moss and tree roots and grasses all have their own unique feeling and movement vitamins to add to the mix. How nice that something so pleasant can also be healthy. By doing lots of mobilization and texture walking at home, my feet are more able to enjoy the textures and feelings of the outdoors without injury. In turn, I get better loads throughout my body.
One final thought – when I was walking on HOT, pebbly beaches in Nicaragua in my bare feet, I was able to tolerate far greater ranges in temperature and texture than my gym-loving friends, who wouldn’t venture out without some sort of foot protection. I’ve trained for it with my foot work, and temperature & texture variation at home, just as they have trained to lift heavy weights. Fitness in one aspect of your life does not translate to fitness in other areas, and for me, foot health is a priority. Especially since you can do so much for your feet (and balance, and muscle use in your lower body) simply by adding more texture to activities you’re doing anyway.