Editor’s Note: This feature is part of The Inertia‘s Health and Wellness Spotlight, an initiative that explores emerging trends in nutrition, diet, and fitness in surf and outdoor culture. We’ll be releasing a feature each day this week with your health in mind, so check back here daily. Unequivocally, excellent health enables more time to fully enjoy the ocean and outdoors. This initiative is powered by our friends at Vivobarefoot. Check out The Inertia’s 2019 Health and Wellness Product Guide here.
Nobody can escape the process of aging. There are clearly people that age more gracefully than others do, but ultimately it’s the habits and patterns that we follow that create results. A lot of people will fall into the idea that you have to do everything perfectly, but I think that leads quickly to hypersensitivity and hyper-acute awareness of how your body feels, which for a lot of people becomes painful. Eating perfectly and exercising six days on, one day off builds a routine that is unsustainable into later life. To keep that intensity, that focus, that perfect diet, requires constant adaptation as you age. When you think of, “What can I do in my 20s and 30s to improve?” you don’t think of blood vessel health, you don’t think of respiratory health, you don’t think of collagen fiber health and joint health. You just think, “My muscles are gonna hurt. My shoulders are going to hurt or my knees are going to hurt.”
I like to focus on two key concepts that I feel are ultimately the most important things we can do for our bodies as we age. One on the nutrition side, the other on the training end. Let me explain.
The first is hydration, which is probably the biggest factor to overall health. If you’re chronically dehydrated then your electrical impulses are going to be chronically off. This is stuff that you can’t see and you can’t feel, but it does create adaptation over time. Your body gets really good at doing whatever it does the most often, so if it’s really good at being dehydrated then, well, there will be adaptations to that: physical, mental, energetic, all of it. It’s weird to think about because you think it’s so simple, but it’s the simple things that make all the difference. If you stay hydrated, you’re going to sleep better, most likely. You’re going to have a calmer nervous system. These are the things that if you pay attention to in your 20s and 30s, you won’t have to do so in the same way in your 40s, 50s, and 60s.
It’s All in the Hips
The next part of it is physical. With healthy hydration and paying attention to good electrochemical concentrations in the body comes healthy muscle movement. If there’s one thing I could point my finger at surfers for—because it’s the same thing that every athlete does—it’s just that there’s a little bit too much movement at the lumbar spine and a little bit too much isolated movement at the lower edge of the thoracic spine. If you don’t have strong hips, your spine’s going to absorb too much force. The most muscles in the body are concentrated around the hip because it’s the largest joint in the body, it supports the most movement, it supports the most weight, and the more healthy muscle contraction we have around the hip movement, the more likely when you do a bottom turn, a top turn, when you pop up, you’re going to have hip-centered movement instead of spinal-centered movement.
I want your spine to move. I want it to be very flexible. I want it to be able to flex and extend, but I want each of those movements to begin at the hip joints. That’s the platform that dictates spinal health and spinal movement. The bigger the muscles you move from, the more control, coordination, and range of motion you have at the end of the muscles; the feet, the ankles, the wrists, and the shoulders. So focus on hip-driven movements. Learn how to deadlift correctly if you want to train muscularly and learn how to perform a healthy squat from the hips because that’s where you have to learn to absorb your body weight. That’s what those things teach your body.
Ultimately, the main goal is to create awareness of how your body feels. Find a way to stay focused on surfing and let that be the thing that drives your quest toward health.
Editor’s Note: This feature is part of The Inertia‘s Health and Wellness Spotlight, an initiative that explores emerging trends in nutrition, diet, and fitness in surf and outdoor culture powered by our friends at Vivobarefoot. We’ll be releasing a feature each day this week with your health in mind, so check back here daily.