May is one of my favourite months. Spring turned into summer over the bank holiday weekend and it's been great to shed the layers, free our feet, get outside and soak up some vitamin D.
Movement as opposed to exercise is something I write about a lot. Exercise alone doesn't seem to make us healthier and use it or lose it remains true. With that in mind, I strive to find ways to make any activity, whether that be working at my laptop or a household chore more movement rich.
Over the last couple of years, I’ve learnt to view household chores differently and resent them less. In fact, I seek out these chores, which in a former life I would have actively sought to avoid with a, hell no! I recently decided to tackle the decking in our back garden which was looking very tired. I could have got one of those jet washers which would have made it much easier and quicker but decided I would use good old “elbow grease” instead. Several hours on my hands on knees, lots of nourishing movement for my under moved upper body and a certain degree of satisfaction as a clean layer was revealed. It’s a slow process as I’m sure you know but over the next few days, I will finish it bit by bit using it as a movement snack during the day, an opportunity to be less sedentary and to be outside.
Reframing these tasks as movement opportunities gives my body some of what it requires to function well. I’m outside and moving in ways that I very rarely do these days because I don’t have to and I’m getting sun exposure. I'm not outsourcing the work to something else, which would have deprived my body of much needed movements. I am also enjoying listening to the birds who are in full voice in the garden.
Gardening would have been another one of those chores I would have avoided. As someone who had previously had back issues, I would have considered gardening a back-breaking task and avoided it at all costs. With a more robust body than in the past, I relish the opportunities to be outside in the garden digging and weeding. Much to my delight, I discovered a robin’s nest in an overturned bucket in the garden.
I also work on my laptop in the garden. Instead of using a table and chair, I use a more dynamic workstation which entails a bench and a yoga block. I sit low to the ground and regularly have to change position and get in and out of a squat. A lot more movement for what could otherwise be a very sedentary task.
For the gardeners amongst you (or anyone who has a back issue), here is a short video by Katy Bowman of Nutritious Movement giving a tip on how to use your body better while gardening.
The good weather means that many of us are wearing a lot less shoe than we spend most of the year in. If you have spent several months in regular shoes, your feet need to transition carefully. They need to adapt and build up strength. Your feet have been casted for many months. Spending hours in flip flops or a sandal which does not have a strap around the ankle means your foot has to do a lot of work to keep the shoe on, hello plantar fasciitis and other foot ailments. The minimal upper of this type of footwear means you have to grip with your toes to keep it on, this shortens your toes, affects your balance and alters your gait.
This top of the foot exercise is a must to help you uncurl your toes and mitigate the overuse brought about by having to overwork your feet to keep a shoe on.