State of Readiness:

  1. Prepared or available for service, action, or progress
  2. Mentally disposed; willing
  3. Likely or about to do something
  4. Prompt in apprehending or reacting
  5. Available

This is what the dictionary has as the definitions for READINESS….. Are we, as a human population, ready? Do we have the ability to be ready?

What I mean by this is look at your cat or dog. Every time they get up from their bed they stretch. Their bodies are always in a state of readiness. They can run and chase a ball in a moment’s notice without worrying about pulling a hamstring or having low back pain. Animals, when getting ready to move, do not tell their masters to wait because they need to “warm up”, again they are always ready to move.

Now THIS cat is “ready!”

Why have we lost the ability to move? Is it because there are not any sabertooth tigers lurking outside or because we have just gotten complacent with how we are?

Just a few generations ago, physical activity was an integral part of daily life. In the name of progress, we’ve now chipped away at it so thoroughly that physical inactivity actually seems normal.

In less than two generations, physical activity has dropped by 20% in the U.K. and 32% in the U.S. In China, the drop is 45% in less than one generation. Vehicles, machines and technology now do our moving for us. What we do in our leisure time doesn’t come close to making up for what we’ve lost.

“This year 5.3 million deaths will be attributed to physical inactivity. Smoking is responsible for 5 million deaths per year”. Sitting is the new smoking.

Our lifestyle is generations removed from the natural limitations that forced balance and moderation. Our exercise and rehabilitation mistakes equal our poor dietary choices, but as yet are not as well documented. Even though we seem obsessed with diet and exercise, we do not practice either in accordance with time-honored fundamental principles. Our success on this planet has less to do with our intelligence than our adaptability, and we are now losing that unique quality.

We are known as omnivores, meaning we can eat a large variety of either plants or animals and receive vital benefits from that diversity. Moderation, balance and variety are basic components of our success. The greater the balance and variety, the greater the benefit, and for most of our time on this planet, natural obstacles produced moderation for us. Those days are over, and our obsession with convenience, comfort and speed has actually reduced the benefits of all three factors. Our food quality and variety continue to decline, but the quantity of things we like is always in reach.

We could also be called omni-exerceos since “Omni” in Latin means all or everything and “exerceo” means to train, exercise, practice, cultivate and generally keep at work—basically… exercise.

Our exceptional anatomical structure controlled by a highly adaptable brain allows us to perform a variety of fundamental and vital movement patterns. Over time, environmental stresses produced a body that could crawl, climb, walk, run, swim and fight. We can lift, throw and swing things.

We have the perfect blueprint to adapt and succeed. The way we learn, produce and maintain functional movement patterns are at the heart of our triumph. Those early adaptive days are over, though, and our obsession with expediency and convenience reduces variety and therefore compromises adaptability. Our exercise quality and variety continues to decline. Some may argue that our exercise choices are vast and they would be correct, but once we select an exercise from our infinite menu, we specialize and move away from variety. We focus on one or two items and that is all we do.

Our exercise mistakes seem to migrate to both extremes. Some do little or nothing, while others intensely focus on a solitary physical endeavor. Some even take shortcuts in the name of the physical ideal or athletic performance, but shortcuts leave telltale signs and side effects. Nature does not allow shortcuts. Instead, it imposes necessary limitations that produce holistic, complete and adaptable outcomes.

However, specialization is not the problem. We all have specific activities that interest us and we should pursue them. We simply need a gauge to indicate when specialization erodes the quality of fundamental patterns. The best way to understand the implications of exercise on authentic movement patterns is to screen or test them. If they are compromised, exercise is not the problem— fundamental movement patterns are the problem, and both intense activity and inactivity will reinforce it. Conversely, if a particular lifestyle does not produce dysfunctional movement patterns, that does not imply an individual is fit, but suggests a pursuit of fitness with minimal risk of injury. However, if a particular lifestyle produces dysfunctional movement patterns, the pursuit of fitness could actually increase risk of injury.

It is no longer a case of just get out there and move. We must establish that movement is fundamentally sound because it can no longer be assumed as a birthright of every human. Our lifestyle no longer forces physical adaptability, and therefore the fundamental mobility and stability that allows us to easily adapt to natural and physical changes has been compromised.

We eat, work and recreate differently than our ancestors and populations without our conveniences and sedentary lifestyle. Many of us are overfed and undernourished at the same time. That concept strikes at the heart of our food quality and is largely undisputed. A focus on food quantity and convenience instead of quality has produced this result. Unfortunately, the same argument should be made for our exercise.

When bodies move poorly, people question the quantity of movement opportunities and incorrectly assume that quality is adequate.

When the quantity of food consumed is extreme or restricted, the results are obvious. The effects of poor food quality are more subtle, but can be equally damaging. The same is true with exercise. We can quickly identify the quantitative exercise problems of too much or not enough, but we do not currently have a gauge for the subtle effects of poor movement quality compounded by exercise.

Current evidence suggests that risk of injury is associated with poor movement quality, yet we have failed to establish standards and minimums to guide us to more effective management and programming. So to summarize get out there and move.