When parkour communities meet up for a group session, they have an interesting way of preparing to hurl themselves off roofs, dumpsters and staircases. They circle up, bear-crawl to the center and give each other high-fives. It’s very wacky, kind of wholesome and makes for a dynamite warm-up. Parkour moves are extremely demanding on the body. What’s the best way to recruit range of motion? It isn’t static stretching, but thoughtful mobility activations.
This knowledge comes to us today courtesy of Christopher McDougall, author of the bestseller Born to Run, who is predictably plugged-in in the larger wellness community (and recently appeared on The Rich Roll Podcast). McDougall is friends with Julie Angel, a parkour artist who’s intimately familiar with this sort of warm-up, and has championed the impact of “movement snacks.”
Why You Only Need to Exercise 150 Days a YearWe break down the “3 x 52” formula
What Are Movement Snacks?
A movement coach, who trains her clients to become “360 degrees strong,” Angel has a variety of invaluable, bite-sized movement patterns available via guides and YouTube videos online. For a sample: check out “rocking variations” here. And I’m personally a big fan of “egg rolls,” found here.
While this discipline may have ties to parkour, it’s relevant to anyone who has a sore back, or spends too much time in a chair. (So, everyone.) Whether you’re training for something or worn down from commuting, these snacks will offer some manner of relief around your shoulders, low back and hips. And they’re dead-simple: they more or less involve rolling around on a mat.
On her movement snacks, Angel says: “They release unconscious tension you didn’t know you were carrying…they rebalance your body and reduce your risk of injury…[and they] create a solid foundation to enjoy other activities and sports.”
How to Add Them to Your Day
I have a talented soccer friend who’s told me how much more fun it is to play the game when you’re in good shape — that affords him the freedom to actually attempt the clever/risky moves he’s interested in. (Otherwise, he’s just running around, gassed, lucky to have a shot on goal.)
In that vein, mobility work is sort of a handy prerequisite to exercise itself. If running or lifting always feels torturous, if might be because your body isn’t ready for the full entree quite yet. Get in the habit of “waking up” the body first, through these targeted mobilizations. For a full guide to moving around in the style of the animal kingdom, check out our guide here.
We should add that “movement snacks” have an alternative meaning in the wellness sphere, one that’s even more approachable, which you should also embrace. This meaning refers to being purposefully “fidgety” throughout the day (increasing your stand hours, engaging in NEAT exercise, etc.) Think: going for walks, getting up from the desk every 20 minutes, sitting on the floor while watching TV.
You don’t need to implement all of these strategies into your life, and certainly not all at once. But rest assured: the more you commit to snacking on movement, the more you’ll enjoy the eventual full meal.