How to Use Your Body to its Fullest Potential

by:Vu Nguyen July 12, 2017

By anatomical design, we’re all meant to move. If Mother Nature created us for the sole purpose of movement, she couldn’t have designed a better vessel. Our bodies are a complex network of bones, muscles, joints, tendons, and ligaments –  the musculoskeletal system, and it is through this single, cohesive system that our bodies are intended to move. Not just any movements but a combination of basic and complex movements. To run, jump, and manipulate objects are examples of an infinite number of movements that our bodies are designed for.

But, is any object, animate or inanimate, any more than the raw materials that it consists of, if not used for its intended utility? What is a car but an inordinate conglomeration of metal and rubber if not driven? What is a spatula but a piece of plastic if not used to flip eggs? What makes our bodies any different? How many of us can truly say that we are using our bodies to their full potential and for their intended design?

The Irony of Human Advance

Over the course of human history, we’ve seen much evolution, not just physically but also in human culture, behavior, and conditioning. Through this evolution, we’ve made many monumental advances but, ironically, these advances have also led to monumental setbacks.

Let’s look at the way we communicate with one another. Long before today, in an age of anonymity, the only way to interact with your family, colleagues, and peers was face to face – a personal connection where emotion and intention could be taken at face value. Through evolution and advance, we are now in a time where, at the press of a button, we can communicate with someone on the other side of the planet. This advance, while a significant feat, has dulled and eroded interpersonal relationships. When was the last time you suffered damaging misinterpretation or misrepresentation as a result of a text message or an e-mail? This is a simple example of advancement resulting in setback.

Helpful or Harmful?

Deteriorating communication is a topic for someone else to tackle. I’m here to talk about the deterioration of movement. We live in an era where convenience always wins. Products or services that “make things easier” are in high demand. Our ancestors’ ancestors hunted and gathered as a means to eat. Our ancestors farmed and cultivated. These lifestyles demanded full body movement and engagement. Even in our recent history, we had to make our way down to the market to gather ingredients for dinner.

Today, delivery has become prominent. Why? Are we that busy? No. We’ve certainly become that lazy though. Convenience, or the notion of convenience, has taken over. The other day I found out that select stores were offering a service where you pre-shop online, drive to the store, and the employees deliver your products directly to your vehicle. I don’t want to judge but, that level of laziness is… something else. And this is just one example. Pair this with a seated desk job and we’ve got a very sedentary lifestyle.

Complications of Being Sedentary

Sedentary lifestyles have far more implications than we’re willing to acknowledge. Besides the likelihood of poor body image, a life lacking in movement can lead to complications such as hypertension, back pain, cancer, cardiovascular disease, and depression. It’s actually become an epidemic – according to the World Health Organization, 80% of individuals worldwide don’t move enough.

The Youth (Un)Movement

Times have certainly changed – again, not necessarily for the better. Today, we live in technological abundance. Twenty years ago, my cul-de-sac was a hotbed of after-school activity. The instant the bookbags came off, the roller blades were laced up, the nets were set up, and the neighborhood rivalries resumed from the previous night. Children today are more likely to be playing Fruit Ninja or Pokemon Go on their iPhones than they are to be outside – it’s a true tragedy.  Habits, good or bad, are developed at a young age so, if this is how we’re spending our years of youth, it’s no surprise that today’s average adult lifestyle is sedentary.

Let’s Get Physical 

Can we turn back the hands of time to the days when our lives demanded us to move? No, unfortunately not.

What’s the solution? It really doesn’t have to be complicated. If you ask me, it’s as simple as making a more concerted effort and not doing things out of sheer convenience. It’s as simple as making a conscious effort to not take the path of least resistance. It’s as simple as having more awareness. Having awareness that the human body is designed to move. Having awareness that your bodies are capable of extraordinary things if you actually use it for its intended utility. Having awareness that, if you train it properly, your body will get even better and more efficient at doing things it already does.

Like any other skill or ability, movement can be trained. This is what functional training is all about. And this is exactly why the Evolution exists. Not just for training, but for the training of movements. Not just for the training of movements, but for the training of movements that you use on a daily basis. Bear in mind that, as you age, it’s only natural for your movements to deteriorate – this is by nature. But, should you choose not to move, that the rate of deterioration is exacerbated. As the old adage says: use it or lose it. I suggest the former.