A vocabulary is something we all have developed as we have grown. As a small baby you learnt those first all important words, and as time has gone on, this vocabulary has grown into a whole language. Acquiring this extensive vocabulary was a fundamental part of building your communications with the world. Similarly, a movement vocabulary is something that must be build and is essential to aid your physical interactions with the world.
So what exactly is a movement vocabulary?
A movement vocabulary is all the fundamental movement skills the human body can perform - running, jumping, hopping, crawling, rolling, standing, sitting - the list would go on and on.
All these essential skills are designed to reinforce correct postures and joint ranges of the body. Being able to perform all these tasks are important to allow for effective transfer and expressions of force and power.
If you want to be able to perform effective movements for any given situation, working on your movement vocabulary is a key task.
So how to I build my movement vocabulary?
As with language, movement is something that should develop and improve as we age. What we generally see in our society however is movement vocabularies improve up until the teenage years, then unless engaging in regular sport or movement training, our movement skill sets decline into our adult years.
Think about how regularly you see kids performing handstands or cartwheels or rolls in the park. Now how many adults do you see doing the same thing? Little to none.
These types of movements are important to maintain coordination, joint ranges and proprioceptive abilities. The most successful athletes are the ones with the largest movement vocabularies. This ability to adapt to any given circumstance is vital in the world of professional sport and general life.
To build your movement vocabulary start by revisiting those basic skills you did regularly as a child but have likely forgotten.
Try hopping from line to line as you take a walk. Or get out into your garden and see if you can still perform forward rolls and cartwheels. You will likely be surprised by the level of physical exertion it takes you to perform these skills.
If these seem a step too far for you, begin by simply performing crawling patterns round the floor. Crawling is a skill we were all proficient at as a youngster, but how many of us now have the shoulder endurance and hip ranges required to crawl forward, backward and sideways?
Performing different movements to what your body is used to challenges different muscle groups to those you usually work and is a great way to get those joints working full range.
So add some different movement challenges to your workout and see how much you can increase your movement vocabulary.