Kelly Starrett: physical therapist and author of Becoming a Supple Leopard
Are some people naturally more or less flexible?
Watch kids crawl — look at all the hip flexion. It’s all the same. You have infinite potential as a child. It’s very level. That’s why you don’t see any difference between boys and girls in middle school, dude.
Kids in the playground just tear off at recess, right? Do they have to activate their glutes? No, they have all that potential. They can put their arms over their head. You know they have full ankle range of motion.
When do we lose this innate mobility?
Not teaching movement practices. Why aren’t those kids in gymnastics? Why are [kids who take gymnastics] little cheetahs the rest of their lives? Remember those kids? They learned to backflip and they can always do a backflip? And they can jump off the trampoline and they can do all that crazy shit? I think that’s why—talk to any coach, they’re like “Oh, yeah, your kid has to be in gymnastics. Period.”
You say people should be able to perform basic maintenance on themselves. Is there one thing that people ought to do?
Protect your nervous system. That’s it. What is it about your spinal positioning that’s wretched? I’m less worried about how stiff your calves are because the number of calf injuries and the number of Achilles injuries [are] low compared to the number of back tweaks and hip tweaks. If you have one thing to do during the day, what is it that you can protect about your nervous system? Your nervous system is your limiting factor. Period.
What is the one movement for that?
I’d say the single most significant thing is to… get people to stop sitting. The “smoking” of our generation is sitting. A treadmill is not the answer. The answer is not to sit. So, you need a cheap-ass barstool and a higher desk and you can lean and put your foot up and change position and just by removing that stimulus alone, life would change.
So Thursday, get out of your office chair and come do the ROM WOD with us! Start the journey to find that “innate” mobility you were born with!