18 April 2023

Review: Built to Move by Kelly Starrett & Juliet Starrett

Built to Move by Kelly Starrett & Juliet Starrett book cover

* Copy courtesy of Hachette Australia *

Like many of you, I've been working hard to improve my physical health and wellbeing for years, and this book has come at just the right time.

In Built To Move, authors Kelly Starrett and Juliet Starrett introduce the 'The 10 Essential Habits to Help you Move Freely and Live Fully'. Their joint focus centres around mobilisations in favour of stretching or exercising and the appeal of Built to Move is that it caters to all types of physical activity and capability levels.

There's something here for every single reader, from elite athletes to sedentary workers, the injured and the disabled, the elderly and the young.
"And, contrary to what you might expect, achieving good mobility doesn't call for exercise. No cardio. No strength training. Instead, it's a series of simple activities that enhance your capacity for free and easy movement, and in doing so also improve all the systems in your body (digestive, circulatory, immune, lymphatic) that are impacted by putting yourself in motion. You use your body's infrastructure, so you don't lose your body's infrastructure. Mobility also primes the body for exercise, if that's what you want to do. But more important, it primes the body for life." Page 6
I'm fortunate enough to see a Personal Trainer and Exercise Physiologist and enjoyed chatting about this book with each of them. The authors were already known to one, and much of what they've each taught me over the years is in this book. It was terrific to cement their teachings by reading Built to Move, and some key points to remember included the importance of using the big toe to walk and the huge benefits of sitting on the floor, squatting and extending the hips.

My health program consists of many exercises across these categories which has enabled me to improve strength and flexibility and subsequently reduce pain and stiffness in my back, shins, calves, achilles and plantar fascia. This requires constant focus and discipline and the merest deviation can often result in pain and stiffness, which serves as a reminder for next time.

It was interesting to learn more about wearing thongs and specifically why wearing thongs for too long or walking too far in slippers exacerbates my plantar fasciitis.
"But if you're walking any distance in them, you will feel the consequences. Flip-flops don't allow the big toe to flex, which allows the foot to push off the ground. So the body compensates, hyperstiffening the plantar fascia (tissue connecting the heel bone to the toes) and ankle, which can cause pain down the line. Slides present the same problem. Make sure the shoes you're walking in have a back." Page 122
Sometimes an explanation like that helps remind us to alter our behaviour accordingly, while others can provide a whole new angle, like this tidbit about the importance of your glutes:
"Research shows that glute weakness is associated with knee injuries, chronic lower back pain, shin pain, falls among the elderly, and more. Glute strength, on the other hand, has been shown to remedy many of these same situations." Page 86
Who knew a few butt clenches could help relieve or alleviate all of that? C'mon, do a couple with me right now.

I wasn't expecting to read anything controversial here, but this husband and wife team don't believe in icing. They point out the fact that Dr. Gabe Mirkin (the sports medicine physician who came up with RICE - rest, ice, compression, elevation) no longer endorses icing, which was complete news to me.
"Here was the upshot: Don't ice sore or injured muscles. Ever." Page 191
According to the authors, icing interrupts the body's natural reaction, possibly even delaying the healing process and they also question the use of anti-inflammatories. Their points are convincing, but given how hardwired we are to ice a sprained ankle, it's hard to accept.

I learned plenty of new and unexpected things about the body too, including this shocker:
"...but consider that jumping not only keeps your balance systems in shape, it also gets the organs in your viscera cavity moving around, which is beneficial for the health of pretty much all the crucial systems keeping you alive." Page 221
Hang on, what? My viscera needs to 'move' for good health? I knew jumping was good for the heart rate, circulation, cardio fitness, bone strength, balance and more, but I didn't know it was also good for my internal organs. For those that can't jump, I learned that bouncing without lifting your feet off the ground still achieves great benefits for the body, so there's something for everyone. 

I've read many books on sleep, so it was good to be reminded of the impact our sleep habits have on our health and the relationship it has with pain.
"How much pain you feel from any musculoskeletal issues you're dealing with can also be influenced by your sleep habits. With sleep deprivation, two things can happen. One is that the part of the brain that telegraphs pain to your consciousness becomes more sensitive. At the same time, the areas that dull the perception of pain - kind of like your body's own inner aspirin - become less active. ...Sleep is the first line of defense against pain." Page 252
I know this first hand, and it's a key tool in my own management of a chronic pain condition.

Reading Built to Move - The 10 Essential Habits to Help you Move Freely and Live Fully by Kelly Starrett & Juliet Starrett inspired me to move in the same way that watching Old People's Home for 4 Year Olds on the ABC did; which can only be a good thing.

It also incorporates key lessons and teachings from my physio, personal trainer and exercise physiologist and I'm sure they would like more of their patients to improve their own self knowledge and awareness through reading books like this one.

I found this highly valuable and recommend it to all readers.

My Rating:

Would you like to comment?

Thanks for your comment, Carpe Librum!