Have you ever thought about using the way you rest as a tool to advance your health and fitness? What if I told you changing the way you rest could help increase your strength gains, decompress your body, and support the foundation of your entire movement? Well, it can!! This article will discuss how our current resting positions harm our connective tissue and impair our ability to move effectively and efficiently. We will also go over some resting positions you can start practicing today to help!
First, let’s break down nature’s movement in a nutshell. If you watch a baby crawl, an indigenous person walks, or anything created by nature moves through space in slow motion, they share some common traits. For the sake of this article, we will be discussing one of these traits, back chain dominance. When you move from your back chain, your hip bone is sitting over their ankle bone, they have a nice long decompressed spine, and their head is up with their chin tucked. This position allows for you to land effectively and leave the ground effectively. However, when our hips push in front of our ankle bones, we are in “reverse” gear. This “push to the front” is our problem. When we start moving forward with reverse mechanics (front chain dominance), our connective tissue suffers because we are out of nature’s alignment for optimal locomotion. This front chain position forces us to use altered joint mechanics.
Modern-day conveniences like couches, chairs, shoes mold our bodies to this front chain position and teach us to walk with our glutes under our ribs, strike with the heel, or on the inside edge of our feet. The inside ankle bone low is the baseline for all no contact injuries or nagging aches and pains in your lower body, back, and shoulders. Dysfunction starts from the ground up. It’s a complex concept to understand because how can your feet affect your shoulders? Simply, when you absorb and release pressure on an unstable foundation, your body will take the path of least resistance. When this happens, you start to compensate with the wrong parts of your body, sending a disrupted pressure wave through your system. Remember, the body is all connected. Years of altered joint mechanics will send pain through your body from the ground up.
Now let’s equip you with some helpful rest positions to help decompress and mold your body for the proper movement pathways.
Seiza position – the seiza position is the baseline for the rest series. You want to sit on your knees with the top of your feet facing down on the mat, big toes together, and heals away. This position keeps your inside ankle bone high, which keeps you in a safe and secure position while moving through space. You may feel a lot of pressure around your knees and the tops of your ankles. You can ease the tension by placing your hands or elbows on the ground in front of you. If that doesn’t help, try placing a rolled towel or matt in between your knees. Don’t push past any pain, and build your tolerance from 30 sec to as long as you can.
- Cowboy – the cowboy position is kind of like a half seiza. You have one foot down in that big toe in, heal away position, and your other foot placed on the ground in front of you on the outside edge of your foot. It looks like a kneeling position. Don’t push past any pain, and build your tolerance from 30 sec to as long as you can.
- Indigenous squat – this is for the advanced movers. Lower your glutes down to the matt while maintaining your inside ankle bone high position. Stay on the outside edges of your feet. You may place a board or rolled towel, or mat under your heels to release some pressure. Don’t push past any pain, and build your tolerance from 30 sec to as long as you can.
The best thing to do is start in seiza for as long as you can. Typically, one side will burn out before the other, releasing that side and transitioning into the cowboy position until the downside needs some relief. Then switch your feet. You want to work up to 10 total minutes of toggling from seiza to cowboy. The indigenous squat may be challenging at first but be patient. Use support under your heels to cut the distance between the ground and your glutes. You want to work up to 10 unbroken minutes in this position. Good luck!
“train like an athlete, heal like a hippie, and always trust your gut.”