After my run the other day, I went skipping, hopping and jumping down the street. Even though my legs were tired from my run, these activities were fun. The reason for doing them is to boost muscle strength, power, balance and agility. Doing them on tired legs teaches my muscles to be strong at the end of a race – to find that more that’s always there. To create a familiar feeling of energy and ability to tap into.
It made me think how many of us have forgotten to play. If the idea occurs to us or we observe playing – perhaps our kids – our saboteur voice can kick in telling us we’re too old, too creaky, to heavy, too frail, too ‘grown-up’, too tired, too ‘busy’ and the list goes on. What if you were to try it anyway? Be curious to see what’s possible. How might moving in those moments shift your energy?
Try these three – possibly forgotten, perhaps neglected – playtime activities. I’ve provided modifications to help your body and muscles remember the ‘moves’ and build up to the full dynamic movement.
Note: If you need some reinforcement to by-pass your saboteur, tell yourself you are in training. – for the rest of your life. Should your neighbours ask, tell them you’re in training and invite them to join you! The idea is to be playful! Oh, and remember to breathe!
For me, skipping is one of the most carefree activities. It has a happy-go-lucky carefree energy to it. Go skip down your street. With or without a skipping rope. Feel the freedom. Don’t worry about how far or how fast. 10 seconds. From one tree to the next. Maybe one day around the block. Little steps. Big steps. Have fun.
Options: Leave the ‘hop’ out of the skip. Without a skipping rope, swing your arms back and forth as you lift the alternate knee standing in place. Imagine your body lifting up in the air. Maybe over time you can come up on the toes of your standing leg which is great for balance. Try one each side. Then maybe another set. Build up slowly. Keep a chair nearby to help with balance if you need it. You might eventually try it with a hop or not. You might try stepping forward every time you set your foot down creating a walking ‘skip’. Be creative.
Remember those? Stand with your hands buy your sides and then jump your legs apart while raising your arms overhead. Then jump back to starting with legs together and arms by your sides. Go slow pausing between each one. Or go fast. Start slow then increase speed. Do one. Great. Maybe 2 next time. Or 5.
Options: From standing with feet together and arms at your sides, step your left foot to the left. Then bring your arms straight overhead. Or if that bothers your shoulders, bend your elbows parallel to your shoulders created a big U with your arms. Bring your arms back down to your sides. Step your left foot back together wit your right foot. Repeat, stepping to the right this time. Try another set. See how many you can do. If you want to add some upper body strength training, pick up two equal sized rocks – start small. Hold them in your hands as you raise your arms.
Remember when you were a kid in the backyard or the playground and you’d move around the yard pretending you were a butterfly or could float in the air? Moving your arms and legs and your entire body in an uncensored expression of bliss? Well even if you didn’t do this as a little kid, now is the time to try it. Let your body move however it wants to move. Let your body wisdom guide the dance. If you feel silly great!! You’re doing it right. There is no one right way. Just your way!
Options: Sometimes we need a little help to get in the flow. Start by moving your fingers, then your wrists, elbows and entire arms in whatever way they want to move. Then start moving your torso. Even micro-movements. See how it feels. Start from sitting. Put on your favourite music if you need inspiration. Oh, did I mention outside. Let nature be your guide. Even if it’s raining. Let that inspire your dance. Try it! Remember, this is all an experiment.
Here are 7 suggestions to move past any reluctance you might have and be willing to play.
Moving our bodies can be fun. It can be intimidating too if we haven’t moved much lately or have a physical restriction. Remember, where your focus goes, energy flows so choose a perspective that is going to help you make your best moves. Get outside and give yourself permission to play. Then tell us what your favourite playtime moves are in the comments below!!