[This is a guest blog post contribution by Hunter O’Brien. More information on Hunter is below.]
It is not new news that exercise is an important factor of a healthy lifestyle. If you’re in some sort of physical practice, be it CrossFit, yoga, or endurance training, and are looking to upgrade your performance, enhance your longevity, and get in touch with the physical, it could be helpful to ask what type of movement are you doing (or not doing) during the rest of your day. – After all, there are only so many HIIT trainings and Vinyasa classes you can attend. The rest of your day is dedicated to work, family, and all the other things life throws at you.
We are wired for movement, and as humans, we have evolved to move all day long. It is just as much a part of our personal biology as eating well and having healthy relationships.
While it is certainly unrealistic to consider carrying around a kettlebell in your purse, and too much “intense exercise” is detrimental to the body, that does not mean you have to save movement for the gym hour! Here are 5 movement and mobility strategies you can include in your morning routine to jump start your day. Just like a green juice or a Bulletproof coffee, you can consider them as nutrition….movement nutrition, if you will. Like many other biohacks, they will help you enhance your productivity and mental clarity, and add to the pursuit of your human potential. They might even help you improve a few biomarkers.
5 Mobility Biohacks to Improve Your Morning Routine
1. REST IN A SQUAT
If you are looking to improve your mobility and the health of your your hips, knees, and ankles, look no further than the flat-footed squat. It really is a fundamental body posture, and for us humans, it is the natural RESTING position. Not only is the squat beneficial for maintaining good mobility, but like our fellow primates, it is the natural posture for elimination, and is how the human body was designed to function for proper digestion mechanics. A great way to improve and maintain your squatting practice is to include the RESTING squat in your morning routine. My favorite way to get this one in is to spend time in a squat while boiling water for my coffee or tea. I will typically spend 1-5 minutes resting in this position in the morning, after my daily workout session, and any time I spend a long period with my glutes stuck sitting in a chair.
2. PRACTICE DEEP BREATHING
“Your breath is a primal life impulse. Its rhythm is a chief barometer of your well-being.” (-Jill Miller)
Most of us may not think of it this way, but breathing is very much a movement, and the diaphragm which is the “heart” of the respiratory system, is a muscle. When you take an inhale, the diaphragm contracts downward, and when you exhale it returns upward. This rising and falling of the abdomen mobilizes the surrounding organs, fascia connections, and muscles which creates a supple and healthy core. It is often easy to forget what it feels like to breath in deeply, and for many, it is only practiced when on a yoga mat or during a long drawn out sigh. Including a deep breathing practice in your morning routine is a “catch all” strategy for improving your lung capacity, blood chemistry, and mobility of the interconnected network of muscles that make up your core.
3. GET INVERTED
There is something awkwardly comfortable about being upside down. Inversions by definition can unnerve. They reverse the effects of gravity, invigorate the circulation, and flood the vital organs and brain with nourishment. Having a hand balancing practice is pretty fun and exciting, however you do not have to be a circus performer or advanced yogi to enjoy the biohacking benefits of inverting your body. Simply by resting your legs up against a wall, you can receive the calming and rejuvenating effects of getting upside down. I often spend my morning meditation in this position and at times when I feel overwhelmed with the daily grind, it is my go to stress hack.
4. ROLL YOUR FEET
When we think about improving mobility and flexibility, the first thing that comes to mind is stretching. However there is another important factor to consider when including a mobility practice in your morning routine, and that is self massage. Like brushing your teeth, the rest of the body responds to touch. The anatomy of your fascia and muscles is similar to an interconnected highway. One of the largest intersections is at the bottom of the foot. Our feet are what ground us to the earth, and they are one of the highest concentrations of mechanoreceptors, which are the nerve endings that communicate pressure to the central nervous system. Spending some time taking care of your feet with a tennis ball or a massage therapy balls can release tensions and alleviate many of the pain points of the body including the lower back, knees, and hamstrings. When practiced often, like,say every morning, self massage can improve your posture, and even increase your proprioception which is your ability to sense your body and its parts.
5. GO FOR A WALK
We are nomadic by nature and the art of walking is part of our ancestral evolution. It is a natural mood enhancer and not to mention, it is free! Before you learned how to run, deadlift barbells, or practice crow, you learned to walk. After crawling, it is the first movement you acquired, so why not include it into your morning routine. Taking a little time in the morning to walk (even just for 5 minutes) can reconnect you with the body’s circadian rhythm, turn on your immune system, and can even help regulate some important biomarkers like blood glucose.
Your 4-Step Plan to Add More Mobility to Your Life
Hunter is a movement/performance coach, and personal health strategist with a passion for learning and teaching how to achieve peak-performance, vibrant health, and the ability to pursue a hero’s life. You can find Hunter at hunterobrien.com where he blogs about movement skills and performance enhancement, and shares his journey with other biohackers, and lifestyle enthusiasts.
The posts on this blog are for information only, and are not intended to substitute for a doctor-patient or other healthcare professional-patient relationship nor do they constitute medical or healthcare advice of any kind. Any information in these posts should not be acted upon without consideration of primary source material and professional input from one's own healthcare professionals.