Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Review: Becoming A Supple Leopard by Kelly Starrett

In a recent blog, I mentioned the discovery of a website called The Art of Manliness that was developed by a guy named Brett McKay. I discovered the website when looking online for exercises to undo the damage caused to our bodies by sitting. While on Brett's site, I read a post on seven exercises focused on undoing the effects of sitting. Within the post, Brett gave a strong review and recommendation for Becoming A Supple Leopard. I decided to investigate further.

After reading a few reviews and learning a little more about the author, Kelly Starrett, and his methodology, I decided to take the plunge and buy the book. The book isn't exactly a simple book on fitness, but it seems like it is highly popular in the CrossFit community. I have seen a few copies in gyms and my sister even has a copy. The book is written as a more academic treatment of mobility and injury prevention. I could see a text like this making its way into a variety of Physical Therapy and Exercise Physiology programs.

The book is huge (like a textbook or coffee table book) and it is filled with page after page of mobility exercises to help improve range of motion, resolve pain, and optimize performance. Dr. Starrett strongly encourages readers to make their way through the book before jumping into the exercises so one can understand the principles that the mobilities are built upon. I heeded his instruction and found myself reading from cover to cover.

The book is extremely helpful for thinking through functional movement and strength, and for equipping people with tools to do self-maintenance to reduce incidence of injury. Starrett explains that the human body is highly adaptive, and he believes that the leading cause of joint pain and injury is poor mobility which the body then adapts to, and subsequently becomes injured through weaknesses and instabilities created by the adaptation.

Fundamentally, I found myself nodding yes throughout the book as I learned more about Starrett's background and framework for addressing preventive care. The thought that our bodies become injured through a lack of mobility and strength in different muscle groups just made sense to me, and the idea of doing self-maintenance to reduce or prevent injury just seemed like a smart thing to do.

Since reading the book on July 5, I've attempted to cultivate a daily habit of 10-15 minutes of mobility exercises and I can tell a marked difference in my mobility as well as my resilience after workouts. I highly recommend Dr. Starrett's book, and I also recommend reading the whole way through to think through the why of his book, and the why of the mobility exercises contained within. What I love the most about the framework is that it gives a sensible and practical pathway for improving mobility, functional strength, and injury prevention. Having been sidelined by injuries in the past, any tools I can use to reduce my risk of injury are tools I want to deploy with consistency.

May we all become supple leopards, always ready for whatever physical challenges come our way.

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