Have you heard me discuss the “High Cost Of Zero?”
This is a term I coined to describe the destruction caused by a total lack of certain stimuli.
There are certain movements that, if completely ignored (zero), will deteriorate the human body all over (high cost).
BUT, doing just a few minutes a day is a MASSIVE gain to health, strength, and athleticism.
(In fact, the “high cost of zero” was how I decided which 15 habits would be part of the Primal Athleticism Daily Practice).
Today I want to share with you the BIG 3 for human health and longevity.
Do these every day and you’ll live longer, perform better, and feel great.
I’ll briefly discuss the importance of each and then go into exactly how you can incorporate the “Big 3” into a simple, 5-minute daily practice.
The first and best example is bouncing.
“We age from the roots up,” is an ancient Chinese proverb that describes the total-self destruction caused by dysfunctional feet.
On the other hand: we say that a person has a “spring in their step” or the “spring of youth.”
The feet are a common weak link in otherwise strong people.
Not only that, but fear of movement often starts there.
“Tread lightly” or “walking on eggshells” means to be careful, or even afraid.
The exact opposite of “Sure-footed,” which can mean nimble or confident.
You get the idea: If your feet are weak, then bad news up the chain (all the way up to your brain).
5 minutes of bouncing every day can completely change the way you live–mentally and physically.
Note: You may need some prep work to feel strong and safe for your bouncing practice. This can include calf raises, ankle circles, massage, side planks, and more depending on your unique health history.
So when I say bounce, what do I really mean?
Jump rope probably comes to mind but I don’t love it. While you get the springiness in the ankles, it doesn’t really allow you to explore 3d space and coordinate your arms in an athletic way. It’s definitely better than NO bouncing, but you can invest your energy better.
Running, shuffling, skipping, and dancing are all good options that allow you to increase your elasticity and improve your 3d movement skill.
A good catch-all for 3d springiness is a modified ginga (see video at the end of this article for an example).
What I like about it is that you get a dose of shifting your weight front, back, side, up, and down.
But wait, there’s more!
Did you know that the calf muscles are often referred to as the “2nd heart?”
The contractions of your calf muscles help return the de-oxygenated blood to the heart. No calf pumping, no venous return.
Another benefit of bouncing is the movement of lymph. Unlike the circulatory system, the lymphatic system doesn’t have a pump.
The only way that lymph moves is if YOU move your body.
Your squeezing muscles and joints pump lymph all over the body so it can find and destroy pathogens like bacteria, viruses and parasites.
Stagnant lymph is about the worst thing that can happen to your immune system.
Bounce or die.
(see my elasticity program for a complete course in developing this ultimate athletic attribute)
The next movement of the Big 3 is Balance.
In terms of return for time investment, balancing is the best mind-body movement out there.
Balancing on one leg, and balancing on the balls of your feet are magic meditation.
1 minute of balancing can calm your hyperactive mind and activate sleepy legs.
Balancing strengthens the kinetic chain from your feet to your brain.
Balancing uses reflexive stability which will fire up your core and glutes, two of the sleepiest areas for most people.
This makes it great as a pain reliever, and as a primer for heavier training.
Finally, balancing supercharges your proprioceptive ability, or ability for your brain to tell you where you are in space.
This is also known as sensory integration.
On a practical level, balance training is the best method of fall prevention. (different from fall preparation, which I also address later in this article).
To sum up, balancing is meditation, fall prevention, muscle activation, and also the perfect primer for heavy lifting.
It’s also a skill you can develop over your lifetime anytime–anywhere.
The last of the big 3 is Rolling.
Rolling allows you to “roll with the punches.”
A shoulder roll is also the ultimate fall preparation.
Fall preparation is about minimizing damage in the event of a fall.
Since falling kills a lot of people, this is certainly a vital skill.
Rolling on the floor is also the best place to feel safe as you expand movement capacity.
This is important because the nervous system is responsible for pain and performance.
If you feel safe, you’ll have less pain and perform better.
The floor is the BEST place to begin restorative movement because it is the most safe, stable, and primitive scenario. Deep primal reflexes help to reeducate dysfunctional pathways.
Rolling on the floor is also one of the best ways to develop core strength. Not only will you build core strength, but rolling on the floor will also illuminate any weaknesses or asymmetries you have.
“The world is my foam roller.”
I say this jokingly at my courses, but it is also true. Rolling around on the floor makes you tougher and less sensitive to pressure. This alone can be incredible for pain relief. Foam rollers can be useful, but you may get better results by rolling around on the floor and exploring the space.
The hardness of the floor will also give you feedback on the smoothness of your rolls. Rolling onto a soft mat is very different from rolling on concrete. Of course, start on a soft surface.
Rolling also will challenge your proprioception, vestibular system, and total sensory integration abilities.
Putting it all together:
We need to compensate for our lack of natural movement if we want our bodies to feel great and perform well. If you don’t give your body the stimulus it needs, it will rapidly deteriorate.
Some things (like roll, bounce, balance) have a high cost of zero. If you totally neglect them, it causes major problems.
BUT, do just a couple minutes a day and you’ll get compound returns on your movement investment.
I put this video together to show you some of my favorite variations on these exercises.
Roll x 1 minute
Balance x 1 minute
Bounce x 1 minute
Roll x 5 minutes (rest as needed)
Balance x 5 minutes (rest as needed)
Bounce x 5 minutes (rest as needed)
1 minute of each, 5 times per day*
*(easy if you are working from home, also a great way to recharge your brain and stimulate creativity)
#4 (Bonus) WALKING
“If you feel bad, go for a walk. If you still feel bad, go for another walk.”
“Walkie Talkie” is my favorite term for humans, because it describes the traits that allowed us to leap out of the food chain.
Long range walking + precise communication = Human Dominance
Walking is a practical skill, physical enhancer, and a psychological cleansing.
Double bonus for walking barefoot on dirt, sand, or rocks.
Eventually everyone comes around to prioritizing their health and athleticism.
It’s simple, my friend:
Roll, Bounce, Balance…and take a walk or two every day.
Triple bonus for doing all of the above while only breathing through your nose.
No excessive effort required, just focused attention.
If you do that, you’ll move well and feel the spring of youth. You’ll also have the perfect foundation to safely explore higher-level athletics.
As always, enjoy,
PS: Want to cover all your bases in your daily practice? Pick up Primal Athleticism and learn how to precisely practice the 15 daily habits for effortless performance and pain relief.
PPS: I also highly recommend picking up my latest program ELASTICITY. It is dedicated to helping anyone safely develop what I consider to be the ultimate athletic attribute.