Move like a kid to increase your strength

Inspiration is everywhere. You just need to be open to hearing it and seeing it.

It was a nice, warm Halloween night in the early 1990s. One of my four brothers wanted to take another quick bike ride up the really big hill called Bennington Lane across from our house. This happened just before my younger siblings, my sisters and I left to cheat or treat. You know what happens when you try to correct a bike that accelerates down a steep hill? You probably lose control and are shipwrecked. Although my brother, Johnny, scared my parents that night, he managed to ride his bike up the steep hill to show them his Frankenstein face and get to the ER. How on earth did this resilient child not break a bone or tear a muscle? He also planned pretty well to get as much of our Halloween candy as he could muster without deception in a house. He still struggles to this day.

Fast forward to about two years ago: our daughter was 10 and we went for a bike ride in our hilly compound. Her brother Ben, 12, and her grandfather Doug, 62, were riding well ahead of us, and Jonna was heading downhill toward an intersection. It was a sunny day in the Midwest and it’s a pretty quiet neighborhood. We had picked up speed, and right before my eyes I saw her braking too hard, overcorrecting and the rear wheel literally flipped over her head. Imagine her doing a flip on the bike, then landing partially on her feet and falling to the ground. I pedaled fast to catch myself completely overwhelmed by what I was about to see. I approached the wreckage and there she was, quite upset, with a mangled bike and a few scratches. I was completely amazed that we didn’t call an ambulance or head to the hospital. How do you do a somersault with a bike on the sidewalk and come out almost unscathed? In addition to her guardian angel watching over her, I believe that children and their ability to move through flexible ranges of motion protect their bodies from increased injury. It’s a certain resilience they have that adults seem to lose as we age. Who can relate to the phrase “Well, I got out of bed badly and pulled a muscle”?

In previous articles, you’ve heard me talk about the importance of getting stronger through the full range of motion. Remember the phrase “if you don’t move it, you lose it”. I wrote about rotating your shoulders and hips fully each day to make sure you don’t lose that motion. Take walks and hikes as usual while making memories with family and friends by playing games outside. It is ingrained in us as children to move easily through all ranges. Let me remind you of the toddler who can sit in the perfect squat and play with toys in that position for hours. When we practice this full range of motion, also called stretching, and repeat it over and over again to strengthen ourselves, we are less likely to injure ourselves, tear a tendon or muscle, or break a bone because our bodies are prepared for this movement. although it may happen unexpectedly.

How to become more like children? We start by practicing this good movement by sitting down and standing up; picking up objects and putting them down; balancing on one leg for a while, then on the other; draw the alphabet with ankles and wrists; and reaching, stretching and exercising. We are meant to enjoy movement and practice it daily. A better idea is to do it outdoors with the added bonus of fresh air and vitamin D absorption.

If you don’t know where to start, find an exercise class that will walk you through these moves. We do them every day in “your best hour” at our daily Jefferson City CrossFit classes. You can even find a yoga class or search for a stretching YouTube video that you can follow. Do this for at least 15 minutes a day, stretching and holding the positions.

Now let’s not stop there. It is a disservice to you to teach strength without considering your daily nutritional intake and its impact on strength and range of motion. Every system in our body is made up of muscles. Put your hand on your chest. You feel it ? Your heart is a muscle and its job is to pump blood throughout your circulatory system. Who doesn’t believe they need a strong heart with less fat? Your heart, lungs, stomach, and organs are all muscles. Every system – digestive, respiratory, neuro, and skeletal – is made up of muscles. We need muscle mass to keep our organs in every system healthy and functioning properly. Muscle protein synthesis is your body’s way of repairing muscle damage caused by exercise. We need protein intake for protein synthesis to build muscle. Protein also improves insulin sensitivity and boosts metabolism. There are 20 different amino acids that make up the thousands of different proteins in your body. Nine of these 20 are considered essential amino acids. They cannot be made by your body, but must be consumed through food.

One nutritional tip I recommend daily is to get an easily digestible source of protein within 30 minutes of your workout or movement. The easiest way is a protein shake. As you work to increase muscle mass, you are more likely to decrease body fat percentage.

You never know when you’ll need those strong tendons and ligaments on your next hike or bike ride up a steep hill. Lead by example and create those memories and come out on the other side ready for more adventure. Inspiration is everywhere.

Maria Holee is a retirement specialist at the County Employees Retirement Fund. She and her husband, Jake Holee, own Jefferson City CrossFit, established in 2012. She is a Level 2 CrossFit trainer, has held several weightlifting seminars, was nominated for Zonta Women of Achievement in 2018, finished fifth in the United States in 2016. Strongman, and trained in CrossFit gymnastics.

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