Six Degrees of Movement: Life as a workout

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Please review each level below then read the explanation that follows.

Level 1: Personal Control

  • Emotion/Attitude
  • Awareness
  • Persistence
  • Pain

Level 2: Gravity

  • Standing
  • Sitting
  • Breathing
  • Moving

Level 3: Mobility

  • Bending
  • Lifting
  • Walking
  • Climbing stairs

Level 4: Function & Prevention

  • Carrying
  • Running
  • Jumping
  • Twisting

Level 5: Athleticism

  • Pushing/Pulling
  • Cutting/Pivoting
  • Accelerating
  • Decelerating

Level 6: Pushing Physical Limits

  • Cardio Training
  • Weight Training
  • Motherhood
  • Sports

The Six Degrees of Movement Framework is a categorization of day to day movement challenges that people face throughout life.  The first two categories are the most important as well as the most mentally challenging.  You learn how to move at a very young age when you can, and do, take everything in life for granted.  Who you are, both physically and emotionally, develops before you are old enough to have any control over it.  Your parents play a big role and so does gravity.  As you get older, you progressively take back most of your emotional/personal control from your parents, but unfortunately most people don't learn to take back their movement control from gravity.  Just because you can sit, stand, walk and breathe doesn't mean you are doing any of it correctly.  Movement and posture are skills that some people learn well and others do not; those who do not, tend to suffer from far more pain and health concerns throughout life than those who move well.

The six levels are not a linear progression of how we learn to move as humans; instead, they are a categorization of the complexities of each movement skill.  Day to day life provides us with ample opportunity to be strong, mobile creatures, but poor Level 1 skills tend to make people move very inefficiently and in an inherently lazy way.  There is nothing more persistent on Earth than gravity so one of the best things you can do for yourself physically is to learn how to be persistently aware of how it affects your day to day life.  How you stand, sit, breath and move all day will have far more effect on you physically than the 10 minutes of stretching you may choose to do in the evening.  Bending over to tie your shoes, walking down the street, picking up your child, or climbing a flight of stairs are all things you likely take for granted, but they are movements that require strength and coordination to do well.  If done well, they can help you get stronger, if done poorly, they can be a great way to create pain and prevent you from taking them for granted.

There is an underlying guilt that a lot of people hold on to, and that is a perceived need to do more to "get in shape."  Everybody for some reason thinks they need to "work on their core," but most don't really understand what that means and either end up doing too much abdominal work or nothing at all.  Life should be your core work out and anything beyond that should be focused on building strength and endurance for the movement challenges you choose to engage in.  The biggest mistake people will make when it comes to their physical health is to pursue Level 6 activities without working on the life skills of the first five categories.  It is the main reason people get hurt at the gym, injured in sports and suffer from the aches and pains of motherhood.  Learn to move well during the day and you can put in way less effort for a far greater physical return when you decide to push the limits of your body with training, sports and/or pregnancy.

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