How many of you tried jumping to see how you felt? Did you notice how you jumped? Arms in the air? Legs pulled up? An enormous number of Americans nowadays work in a sedentary job - at a computer, desk, or in a car. If you are one of them, think for a minute about that sedentary posture - hips at right angles, back tight, shoulders hunched, or for some, pinned back tightly. Try this: sit like that intentionally. Then get up and look down. Clasp your hands together in back of you and hunch your shoulders. Now jump. You don't get very far, do you? As a colleague of mine said, "The sedentary posture is the antithesis of the ability to jump." I would add that it's also the antithesis of the ability to run quickly, squat down, or twist to the side.
Sitting is, as I've written before, a repetitive task. It creates tight, frozen muscles that can cause back, neck, shoulder, hip or knee pain. It keeps us from being able to do fun things like jump, run, reach, bend over or even fall properly. Anything that is repeated - factory work, loading packages (as a postal worker would do), carrying children, cooking - creates the condition for certain muscles to remain contracted and others to become underdeveloped.
To return to jumping: If you don't move enough, you'll find that you have no strength in your legs. If you're "de-conditioned" to move, you won't have proper muscle development to balance, push off, and relax certain muscles while others work. Going to the gym and doing the same repetitive exercises everyday might build a certain amount of strength, but it won't necessarily give you the freedom of movement to "mixing things up" and move in a variety of ways. It may even cause repetitive strain. It is important to be strong; it's as important to be adaptable and able to move quickly, in many different planes of gravity.
In our Hanna Somatics classes we teach that movement, like life, is about choices and options. There are many ways to move - you just have to begin to explore them. In exploring, you'll find that muscles "wake up," pain begins to recede and awareness of one's self and one's movement creates positive, and enduring physical as well as mental and emotional improvement.