BLUE SPINECHECKERYou should be curious about each and every one of your joints’ potential. I know this may sound like the opening to a marijuana horticulture book rather than from a Chiropractor, but as a movement specialist and enthusiast I’ve cross-pollinated into different modalities of movement over the past year and discovered some fascinating new insights…the most important being… optimizing the “potential of motion” of your joints and especially the spinal joints truly is a spiritual endeavor. Here’s what I mean.

In the past year my movement nutrition palate has exploded from hand balancing with Ido Portal’s crew…to becoming a beast, crab, scorpion, & ape with the Animal Flow peeps….to the human movement optimization FRC/ KINSTRETCH trainings with Dr. Andreo Spina and his ninja instructors… to another teacher training with alignment wizard and yoga physicist Alex Crow…to the weekly strength and conditioning programing by Danny Lesslie of Deuce Gym… to checking and adjusting the spines and extremities of the active lifestyle lovers of Los Angeles…and most importantly playing on the floor with my 6 and 3 year old nieces…..(wow that’s a huge run-on sentence).

My goal in studying with these masters of movement was to discover and uncover new ranges of motion and to increase my kinesthetic lexicon. After incorporating all of these different styles of movement into my personal holistic body-mind training program I began noticing some movement deficiencies along certain pathways that had remained dormant for years. This was absolutely fascinating as it gave me the opportunity to “clean-up” dysfunctional joints and weak/tight muscles. And let me tell you…When I find dysfunctional joints I approach the “clean-up” process targeted strategies like Harvey Keitel’s character Winston Wolf, “The Cleaner” from Pulp Fiction.

You need an optimal surplus of movement in order to move and perform. The problem is most people are living in deficit. They’re bankrupt in terms of motion and then they’re borrowing motion from other areas and that’s causing injury. And it’s not a matter of if they’re going to have a problem it’s a matter of when and how big.

When you improve the range of motion to your dysfunctional and deficient joints, watch how much better you move… …think… breathe…and  even relax. Probably the most important by-product of this work will be increasing your body’s innate ability to adapt to different stress loads. Your tissues won’t buckle. Your body won’t buckle. After all… it’s only when your tissues can’t handle the “stress load” that injuries happen.

I’m gonna warn you that this clean-up practice that emphases your movement foundation and fundamentals isn’t sexy when you watch the videos on Instagram or Facebook. What is attractive and sexy is you when you dedicate a portion of your “practice” to cleaning up your movement deficiencies to make sure you have the prerequisites to perform your movement demands so you can kick ass on the yoga mat, in the gym, on the surfboard, on the slackline, on the court, and most importantly at home.

So here’s the homework. Commit to a “skull to toe” scanning-lubricating-detecting sequence to asses your mobility. Be curious about the shape and configuration of your joints. It helps to have a skeleton nearby so you can actually see geometry where the bones come together. Spend sometime time getting acquainted with each joint. Get lost in this regional exploration. I practice at home on a circular yoga mat versus a rectangular one. The circular mat allows me more freedom than the rectangular one in terms of coverage and I feel less confined.

I usually start at the top of my body. Arguably the most important joints in the body, and this is true for all vertebrates, is at the top of the neck. Have you mastered the movement at that level? If you haven’t…. that’s the starting point…where your brain and spinal cord come together. If that area isn’t expressing its movement potential you’re functioning below your maximum level due to its neurological implications. Working down the spine from the neck into the upper, mid and low back you’ll notice that the orientation of the joints changes and so does the degree of movement for different planes of motion. Then expand the movement exploration into the shoulders, arms, hands, hips, legs, and feet.  Work on become strong and mobile holistically.

If you find an area that’s locked up…find a chiropractor to help with your movement deficiency. After you’ve restored normal and natural motion to that area, intelligently stress the area so that it learns how to adapt to increased forces- loads- inputs which only helps to promote tissue adaptability and injury prevention.

When your joints move nicely you give yourself the best opportunity to crush it. Your body is more in tune than out of tune. That means there is less negative stress on your body. Less stress and distress means your internal physiology shift away from “fight, flight, or freeze” physiology toward a more relaxed state of being which is more conducive for growth and development and peak experiences. And that’s spiritual.

–  Dr. Jeremy Brook