Something that often bothers me is the language we use to talk about movement, health, and wellness in general. We apply very little thought to the words we use and how we relate linguistically. Words are powerful things as they are essentially thoughts brought into the physical world.
This isn’t esoteric at all. Speaking the words in your head gives them physical form through the vibration of air molecules. To demonstrate why this is problematic, what’s more, difficult to deal with, imagining a tiger chasing you or actually being chased by a tiger? Once thoughts have a physical form they hold more power over us.
Words Shape Our Perspective
When I first started MovNat I had a hard time adjusting to the words the system used. It was really frustrating to have to learn new terminology and apply it to movements I commonly used already. But upon an explanation of why this was done, it made perfect sense.
I’ll use the example of a split squat, a movement that most people know as a lunge. If I teach someone how to do a lunge, many people will already have a conception of the form required to do a lunge. However, if I teach someone a split squat, it registers as a new movement and the person is more receptive to instruction and the many variations of the split squat.
In reality, there probably isn’t much difference between the average lunge and the average split squat. But split squat is a more useful term within MovNat because most people will not generate a mental image when they hear split squat.
In Ken Bob Saxon’s book Barefoot Running Step-By-Step he picks on the term heel strike. When one thinks of a strike generally the image of something like a punch or a kick comes to mind. Strike conjures images of a forceful impact. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want my heels forcefully impacting the ground every step of a run.
Ken Bob instead suggests using a term like landing. So instead of a heel strike or a forefoot strike, we would say heel landing or forefoot landing. If I told you to strike the ground with your feet how would that movement look? How would that movement differ from one where I told you to land on the ground with your feet?
Don’t Divorce Your Movement
One of my biggest pet peeves is when a person does something like go for a walk or a hike, rushes through it, and then proclaim, “well got my workout in for the day”.
This irritates me for several reasons. The first is that movement sessions whatever they may be shouldn’t be rushed through so they can be checked off a to-do list. They should be an opportunity to mindfully connect with your body and your environment. We have enough distractions all day every day. We could all do with more mindfulness time. Combine the two and move with intention.
The second is that relegating your movement time to a separate time called a workout divorces you from the necessity of movement throughout the day. Because you checked off “workout” now you’ve mentally accepted that it’s fine to lay around all day or eat garbage because “workout” is handled.
Movement time should be enjoyable. It should be something you have to do because your doctor said you had to. We are built to move. We have to move to be healthy and whole. Humans cannot exist without regular movement. We are not separate from our movement.
Think about what your words say about your health. Listen and take note. Do you support your well being with your language? Or do you divorce yourself from it or even undermine your health with language? If you want look more into this concept the little book Before You Think Another Thought is one of my favorites.