Ever had a time where you really wanted to improve something more, but couldn’t dedicate even more time to practicing? It is a frustrating experience, but I have one possible solution. There’s a trick, of sorts, to getting around that little problem; sneak movement practice into your daily habits. Many skills can be worked on gradually through the day, you don’t need to devote 15 minutes to an hour to working on them to begin seeing progress. Now, you aren’t going to see quantum leaps in skill from brief daily practice, but you will make gradual improvements everyday which add up quicker than you think (similar to the concept of kaizen).
Now, there are tons of ways to inject some quality movement practice into your day, but I’m going to focus on three areas. I believe that these three: squats, balancing, and footwork are simple to add in and can be done just about anywhere. These three are also all essential parts of any good movement discipline; everyone can use better hip mobility, balance, and more precise footwork. _Note: while it’s tempting to want to work on all three right away, I would suggest picking just one habit and focusing on that before adding in the others. _
Hinge them hips (squats)
If I had to choose one habit, improving squats would be it without question. Working on improving hip mobility through squatting is an excellent way to counter some of the negative effects of sitting for prolonged periods. I have two options (which can be combined) to add this into your routine. First, use good form anytime you go grab something out of the fridge. Keep your back straight and push your hips back, instead of leading the motion with your head and shoulders. If there’s something at the very bottom that you need, continue that motion by dropping as far into a squat as needed (and is comfortable for you). Working on this has the HUGE bonus of developing good posture habits for lifting too.
Second, I really like Erwan’s suggestion of squatting at least once every hour throughout the day. I started adding it in and found that it was making the squat more comfortable; that paid off massively for me during the whole farming experience.
For physiological reasons balancing benefits even more than other skills from daily practice, and it is super simple to add in. Here are two ways I like:
While waiting stand on one leg and see how long you can maintain balance. Be sure to work both sides, of course. You can also do this while cooking or other standing tasks. Waiting with a friend? You can do simple push-pull games to make it hilariously fun.
My personal favorite: when walking find edges (imaginary or real) on the path and balance on them as you are walking. If it’s becoming too easy, walk faster. Really want to take it to the next level? Try running along the edge.
Fast and precise footwork is super important for everyone, especially if you are spending a lot of time barefoot or in minimalist shoes. I have one simple drill that I talk about all the time that will develop accuracy, especially during running and approaches.
As you are walking (advanced option: while running) pick out some object or feature on the ground about 10 paces in front of you. Decide which foot (for more challenge, which part) will land on that feature. Do not make any noticeable adjustments to your stride; doing so teaches your body to make small changes to your stride that won’t interfere with the flow of your run. You should notice that you stutter step far less often after practicing this regularly.
That’s it, if you like this idea you can easily apply it to other, sometimes more specific, situations in your daily life and habits too. Remember that especially with little habits like these the changes are going to be very subtle at first. You might even think they are doing nothing. If you stick with it though, then you’ll start to notice some small but powerful changes in how you move in the months and years to come.
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