Proper clothing is an extremely important variable which you have to take account if you wish to Movement Structure Your Day properly. If you go to a university class to study and you have not orientated and prepared yourself properly meaning you don’t have the necessary physical tools to extract and dissect the information displayed at class, you cannot properly function in the class. This means you arrive to class without a pencil, a laptop or any other tool you need in order to function. The class is going to be hard times for you, mate. Too much unnecessary obstacles. The same logic goes with proper clothing in your every day life, if you are wishing to end up with a healthy and moving body. In order to ensure you give your body the freedom it requires to move (Hint: too tight and restrictive clothing such as skinny jeans creates unnecessary range-of-motion-barriers) you have to ensure clothing that fits your body and is loose enough to allow natural range of motion for all of your joints. This line of thinking is mandatory for shoes also. Your feet don’t get a pass for this. Movement is mandatory for an truly healthy individual.
Most of the clothes, and shoes, especially inclined towards some profession i.e. working clothes, do not provide this looseness. They might look nice, but many of them are terrible to wear and are too tight in many areas. This restricts movement in your joints and puts you in a awkward position whilst being still and moving. Your shirt might be too tight and this rounds your shoulders forward. Overtime this might develop to a forward head posture. Leisure-clothes can be also restricting but in those you (usually) have a say in the matter what you are going to wear thus you can eliminate this phenomena for occuring. If your lower body clothing is too restricting it will affect your GAIT (the way you walk). For example if your pants are too tight it may inhibit extension from the hip which is a major part of proper walking (when you ’push’ yourself forward by swinging the leg behind you using your glutes) and this restriction induced by the tight pants creates a faulty pattern of movement in the walk aka faulty GAIT. Overtime this would tighten and shorten certain muscles and other ligaments involved with the muscle (such as the hamstrings) but inhibit or even atrophy some (the glutes, major player responsible for hip extension). This dysfunctional GAIT pattern overtime shapes your structures and you may end up with faulty posture, such as a swayback posture.
It is not as simple as illustrated above since clothing is but one factor affecting adaptation and there are many other factors to consider, that was just an example of a certain perspective. Other factors to consider, but not limited to might be your working positions (do you have rotational working station or do you stay constantly in a static sitting position?), in what positions do you spend your time in your home(sitting in the couch vs laying on the floor etc.), how do you travel to work (by public transportation or by a car) and to other activities. The point of this chapter is to illustrate that the issue is more complex than one factor (Clothes) but it’s an important factor to consider since…
Clothes are your foundation. If your clothes restricts your movement and puts you in an awkward position anatomically(like too tight shirt = rounding shoulders), and if you are exposed to the awkward position many hours of the day you are giving your tissues an adaptation signal to adapt to your current position (rounded shoulders) and your body caves in. In other words your body is fitting into the clothing, not the other way around. Think about it, why would the clothes get a pass for not affecting your tissues but sitting doesn’t? We all know now that excessive sitting causes (one cannot be in proper alignment while sitting long periods of time, and proper alignment in itself is a myth of some sorts, since there is not one ’correct aligment’, but many, and few, but that is a discussion beyond this post) bad postural changes and stiffening of the body. To commonality from both of them, sitting and bad clothing, is that they are putting yourself into bad positions and if you stay in those positions long enough, enough adaptation start to occur to make real physical changes in your structure and tissues.
Luckily there are rising number of products in the market that look professional/nice AND allows movement to occur. There are options.
Choosing your clothes based on your surroundings and the context
What you have to take account, obviously, is the context of your surroundings in a day setting: You have the work environment, Leisure-time environment – in where you have a choice where you want to occupy yourself such as the gym – hopefully – and home-environment. You might be able to stack them all up depending on your life circumstances (think: A personal trainer is able to use sporty clothes that allows movement throughout the day whilst working, in leisure and home, but a lawyer’s situation would be a complete different thing. Think about a entering into a law office and you are greeted with a man wearing a white wife beater with flower-printed hawaiian shorts… not very trustworthy-inducing.) The clothing problem is a puzzle where you have the final word how to act on it but I might be able to guide you along the lines to make an informed decision. This demands little to none courage on your part, since many clothes that allow range of motion are still nice looking.
I will provide later on this post some examples what clothing might suit for you to allow free movement. I have not categorized the cloth suggestion being work, home or leisure clothes since I cannot take account your special situation and the context you are in.
The Job environment
Now, I understand there are jobs where you have preselected work clothes by the employee (or maybe you don’t have to, ask your supervisor or suggest an alternative which looks similar but allows movement to occur) so that is a more tricky situation. Those of you who have a choice in the matter I suggest you seek alternatives for what you now have assuming your clothes are restricting natural range of motion for your body. The clothing for the worker working in solitude at the office are easy to change, since no one most likely not demanding a certain outfit for you.
The upper body clothes
Alternative 1# T-Shirt. Pick a little bit looser T-shirt and test if it allows you to move freely. Voila.
Alternative 2# Regular Shirt. Pick again, little bit looser one to allow ROM.
Alternative 3# Sleeveless-shirt. If you are in a region when there is hot or you prefer to use sleeveless shirt, this is an option for you.
Alternative 4# Sport clothes – self explanatory.
Alternative 5# Stretchy suit jacket. Again, little bit looser but one that fits.
There are more options, but these are pretty general and safe to consider.
Alternative 1#: Joggers. These looks just like Jeans, except they are sweatpants. With these pants you are able to look professional (if jeans is the required lower body clothing required in your work) and have unrestricted range of motion for your lower body. In H&M for example you are able to buy such pants around 30-40 euros. ASOS has them also. Other brands as well. I recommend this option wholeheartedly 100%. I am able to look professional but at the same time have the comfort of not wearing tight and restricting clothing. Win Win.
Alternative 2#: Use semi-loose shorts. If you are able to use shorts in your work, this might be a viable option for you. Do yourself a favor and do some research and find some nice looking shorts for yourself.
Alternative 3#: Regular Jeans / Straight pants that are looser than skinny Jeans. This is an alternative, yet not optimal but better than tight and overly restricting. This might be a good place to start to get out of your comfort zone.
Alternative 4#: Stretchy-Suits. There are coming suits that are designed to be super comfy (read: movement allowing). If your occupation requires suit this might a good option for you.
Alternative 5#: Sports wear such as black shorts.
You need a shoe in which the whole foot is able to spread how its supposed to be. Most of the shoes are so tight and narrow that they do not afford this luxury. If your feet are too big for the shoe, especially from the 4th and 5th toe (most feet are too big for the conventional shoes) you will begin to develop faulty movement patterns and structural changes on the feet that are not beneficial for you. One example of too tight shoes would be Hallux Valgus. We also have a wide nervous system which goes all the way to your sole. It’s like an antenna trying to figure out what the terrain you are walking on is like. Most of the shoes have so thick bottom that its like brick against the terrain. Your antenna can’t figure out what’s going on down there. You also need a shoe without any raised heel in other words a flat sole. If you have a situation where you need a medical advice from a health care provider regarding your feet you should consult them before purchasing new shoes.
Hallux Valgus. As you can see the big toe has shifted towards the other toes creating dysfunction for the foot. Since your feet are your antenna, this dysfunction is then carried towards your ankles, knees and hips and ultimately towards your spine and neck. Many may have headaches and try to fix the issue around the neck but the problem might be in your feet.
Alternative 1# Be barefooted as much as possible! At home, outside, whatever. This is the best option. You are giving your feet what they are designed for.
Alternative 2a# I recommend buying barefoot shoes such as Vivo Barefoot or Merrell. There are other brands as well. I know Vivo has many ’regular’ looking shoes, just that their sole is made using their technology to allow barefoot-feel like walking. Again, if you have problems in your feet seek some medical advice before jumping in barefoot shoes. There is a transition period. Katy Bowman has I think a book focusing exclusively on feet.
Alternative 2b#: There has come revolutionary barefoot-products to the market and one such product is Skinners. I bought a pair and I absolutely love them. They are basically socks, but with a tough rubber sole so you can walk challenging terrains with ease. You get almost as close as you can get the sense of barefooting. 100% recommend.
Alternative 3# Regular shoes wide enough to allow your foot to snuggle in there with even sole, preferably the sole being slim. This is a good compromise. There is no raise in the heel, the foot fits the shoe and you are able to feel the ground somewhat since the sole is not thick as a brick. If you are used to using heels / raised heel this might be a good transition-shoe towards barefoot shoes and ultimately barefoot walking.
The clothing matters. Pick the right ones to support your body. If I could make you change one thing, assuming you are not already using the products and solutions I advertised, start making changes in your footwear since the alignment and well being of your feet affects everything above. As above, so below. If you need help regarding these matters or how to Movement Structure Your Day properly, you can contact me through firstname.lastname@example.org.