Try it now: Get off the couch and sink into a full squat with your feet flat on the floor. Stay there for 10 minutes.
Physiotherapist Kelly Starrett will not really be fit unless you can. This simple challenge released on YouTube eight years ago by Starrett, the owner of a San Francisco CrossFit box, fixes a fitness weakness that most men ignore. She is an example of his philosophy.
Starrett preaches that training should bring more than chiseled abdominals and bulging biceps. He wants the gym to restore mobility – that's the raw range of movement that modern life, computer work, and commuting takes daily from us. Classic exercises alone can not fix this. That's why Starrett talks about foam rollers, recovery balls and VooDoo dental floss as often as he mentions kettlebells and dumbbells. That's why he has released this squat challenge. "I thought, how come that nobody has a basic understanding of how their body works?" He remembers. "So I decided to make a video every day for a year. I wanted people to focus on mobility 1
A Radical Premise: According to Starrett, the purpose of training is not only to become thinner or stronger, but also to restore normal physiological function. "That means you can put your arms over your head without having to warm up," he says. Gaining more mobility will give you a foundation on which you can build more strength and superior athleticism while protecting yourself from injury.
Now Starrett works with sports teams and elite military units. He also founded StandUp Kids to fight childhood obesity. And on his MobilityWOD website, he publishes challenges and tips – including the knee flexion test – with the goal of helping boys set goals and achieve goals to improve their movement. Essentially, it quantifies mobility. "I create training tools and exercises for busy people," he says. "With these tools, you can refine your movement, making you feel better in the gym and in everything you do."
Starrett escaped this feeling in his younger years when he was a world-class paddler on the US canoe team. At that time, like everyone else, he was so little interested in mobility that he made fun of a friend who stretched out in front of exercises and events. "Who cares when you're young?" He says, "I'd never stretched before and had tons of back and shoulder pain."
All of this pain led to a nerve-root problem in Starrett's neck doctors had trouble solving. And that made Starrett pursue his own answers – and uncover the benefits of easy mobility. "When you give boys postural exercises, they can eliminate their movement problems so that many common injuries never occur," he says. This is more important than ever in today's workplace, as your body is often placed in awkward positions that interfere with good, clean movement.