I once read a travel article that opened with something like, “Don’t even think about traveling to Peru if you’ve got less than a month,” and then it listed all the must-dos of a long trip to Peru. But the second part of the article started with, “Okay, so you only have three weeks? Here’s what you have to do.” The third part of the article was like, “Two weeks? Okay, do these,” and so on, until it gave the numero uno tourist stop.
The question this article on Peruvian travel answers is, “How can I optimize my trip to Peru?” The author is saying that you should optimize it by allowing four weeks. But then they go on to offer different parameters—how to optimize a shorter trip, and a shorter one, and a shorter one still.
I totally get this article. I’m often asked, “What’s the best daily workout or moves?” As I write out the answer describing how to optimize daily movement, I’ll get a new parameter: “Wait, I’ve only got an hour every day; now what should I be doing?” I have to scale the first request into a smaller amount of time, so I start crossing off items under the “must-do” category to optimize to the new time. Then I’ll get another request: “What can I do in a few minutes a day?” Now I need to pick the numero uno move that will make the trip worth it. And until now, I’ve almost always chosen the Calf Stretch (image from Move Your DNA).
For years the Calf Stretch has been my number one exercise. For those thinking about moving differently and how that might change how they’re feeling, the Calf Stretch is a simple, scaleable move (how to scale your Calf Stretch: Change the height of what you’re stepping on, how high you position your foot, or how far you step with your other leg). It can change the loads created with every step: the mobility of your lower leg impacts your feet, ankles, knees, hips, spine, and, and, and. The ankle position created by a Calf Stretch is an element of every single step you take, whether over flat ground or going uphill. Even when we’re pretty sedentary, we’re still walking a handful of steps from point A to B to C, so the Calf Stretch really is effective for anyone who walks at all. (Listen here to an entire podcast episode I did on the Calf Stretch and why I think it’s great.)
For those willing to tour two stops on their body, my number two exercise has long been the Pelvic List. The Pelvic List is also an element of every step you take—it’s the part of a gait cycle where all your weight is on a single leg, being held by the muscles down the outside of the standing leg. This move fully loads your hip joint (thinking about bone density? This is an excellent exercise to learn and put into every step) and offers more control of your whole-body positioning when you’re on one leg (if you wobble a bit, the large muscles of the legs can keep you stable). The Pelvic List can quickly change the loads to a knee joint, and it also creates a gentle, stabilizing tension on the sacrum (so if you’re working on balancing the forces of the pelvis, including the pelvic floor, this can be key). Did I mention this is just one exercise I’m talking about?
Over the last two years I’ve taught quite a few live courses centered around balanced, safe gait that works in different environments. I’ve had the gift of seeing how quickly a group of 100+ folks can go from wobbly to stable by engaging the Pelvic List muscles. Whether it’s Goldeners who thought they’d lost their balance for good, athletes who couldn’t get past their knee issues (the tendency to try to stabilize the entire body with only muscles around the knees can prevent the hips from contributing), or new parents realizing they can access a heap of baby-lifting and -carrying help from their lower body, the Pelvic List is quickly transformative, over and over again.
All of the above has made me wonder if I shouldn’t promote my number two exercise to number one. Just like a favorite kid you’re not really supposed have (except for you, Mom! Sincerely, your favorite), every move offers its unique, valuable contribution to the whole.
BUT YOU WANT TO GO TO BODY-PERU AND YOU’RE ONLY GOING TO MAKE ONE STOP! Why let me decide where you go? You’re ultimately choosing where you want to visit. Watch and learn the Pelvic List below and see if this is a trip you’d like to take every day.
- I don’t know about my readers’ individual bodies, so I work from the assumption that you can stand and have been cleared for basic movements like walking, have been wearing shoes with a positive heel most of your life, have been sitting most hours of most days for most of your life, and don't walk many miles each day. These assumptions help me choose which exercise needs to be prioritized.
- There’s not really a hierarchy to these exercises; with hundreds of moves to choose from, an order depends on the individual body as well as an individual’s goals and interests. Not having any of that information when I write for a massive audience, I have found a few simple moves a day that go really far. This is because these exercises aren’t designed to only be impactful while you’re doing them. They’re selected for how they can change the loads you experience all day long. Meaning a few little moves can turn into hundreds of minutes of new movement each day. (And they’re also easily slotted into things you’re already doing, so you can actually do each exercise itself more.)
- Further to that point, just like any vitamin shouldn’t be taken in the absence of all other nutrients, if you only do one single move ever, it can end up a) not helping much and b) potentially harming something. This is why cross-training is recommended for athletes, and it’s why I suggest considering eventually traveling a greater area over your body (it’s a magnificent place to explore!). In other words, take your Pelvic List for a walk, introduce it to Calf Stretch, see if it hits it off with Legs on the Wall, and then hang out with them all (on a monkey bar). Dig?