Playing With Movement: How to Explore the Many Dimensions of Physical Health and Performance (Paperback)
If you want better physical performance and health, and are frustrated with simplistic recipes or blueprints for guaranteed success, this book is for you. Playing with Movement is about helping you solve "movement problems," such as completing your first marathon, recovering from back pain, putting on more muscle, or improving your agility on the soccer field. These challenges can't be met with simple recipes because they are are all complex, meaning they depend on interactions between many different individual factors - muscular, skeletal, physiological, psychological - and also social and environmental context.
Play is a natural and intuitive behavior that helps animals explore different ways to solve complex problems. If you want to get better at a sport, find a sustainable exercise program, or even get out of pain, you will need to play with movement. Play means getting physically active in a way that is fun, curious, variable, and personally meaningful. All animals develop skill and fitness through play, not "working out." But the mainstream approach to training and therapy is all work no play. It is focused on movements that are boring, repetitive, planned, stressful and done only to accomplish some external goal. This stems from a reductive mindset that views the body as a machine that needs to be "fixed," instead of a self-organizing system that can grow, adapt and learn. This causes a wide range of common problems, including:
- Pain treatments that expensive, medicalized and ineffective.
- An obsession with correcting "dysfunctions" in posture and movement patterns that are in fact normal variations.
- Sport training that relies on repetitive drills, as opposed to varied games.
- Exercise programs that feel meaningless and dispiriting. For example, "going through the motions" alone on machines in the gym, versus interacting with friends outside while developing functional skills.
The arguments in this book are not based in romantic feel-good reasoning, or nostalgia for sunny days at the park when we were children. They rely on a substantial body of evidence and theory pulled from diverse fields of study, including the sciences of play, complex systems, pain, motor control, exercise physiology, and psychology. They show that the best pathway to movement health is found not by tracking huge amounts of data or following a set of complicated algorithms, but by going on an adventure. If you want to take control of your movement health in a way that is fun, meaningful, and empowering, this book is for you.