Move like a baby

You might not recall, but you once had proper running form and perfect posture. Here's how to get back there.

Even the most open-minded people probably wouldn’t be caught scooting or furniture-walking the way babies do. But believe it or not, little ones actually have a leg up on adults when it comes to smart body movement. “Kids definitely move more naturally than adults do,” says Justin Mager, M.D., an exercise physiologist and a member of the Equinox Health Advisory Board. (He’s also a dad of three children, ages 6, 3, and 1.) Learn why taking baby steps might be your best bet and how to follow their little lead:

strike with your forefoot

So they might not be toeing the line at your next 10k, but wee ones are naturals when it comes to proper running form. “Your forefoot should hit the ground first, just the way children run,” says Dr. Mager. “If you really slow down the movement pattern, you’ll notice that forefoot running is less stressful on the body. When your heel strikes first, you have to completely extend your knee and your ankle joint, which can cause strain.” It’s worth noting, too, that a recent study published in The American Journal of Sports Medicine indicates that forefoot running is associated with less pain and injury than other gaits. “You will hurt yourself if you don’t change to forefoot running,” says Dr. Mager.

be mindful, yet move freely

In a world where it’s not uncommon to spot someone walking down the street listening to music while staring at a smartphone, it goes without saying that we aren’t exactly engaged in all our actions. As a result, says Dr. Mager, we tend to be clumsier and more prone to accidents and injury. Kids, on the other hand, “are open to all the ways the body can move, yet are completely involved with what they are doing,” says Dr. Mager. “But over time, we lose that kind of engagement that kids have.” Being mindful of your movement makes you more efficient, graceful and goof-proof.

try, try again

You might be tentative about testdriving a ShockWave or METCON3 class because you think you can’t hack it. But babies know that nothing comes easily, and persistence pays off. “It takes 10,000 repetitions for a baby to learn a skill,” says Dr. Mager. “If adults practice the patience and dedication that kids do, they would be able to adopt many more activities.”

focus on flexibility

The romper room set is ridiculously flexible whereas your average adult might have trouble touching his or her toes. One reason: Unlike us, babies aren’t parked in a chair or in the driver’s seat for hours on end. “If you sit all day, your body is going build its connective tissue to reinforce that position,” says Dr. Mager, who suggests simply stretching beyond what you’re used to in an effort to improve flexibility and mobility. “Check in on how you’re moving then try to make some adjustments.” Once a day, try to incorporate some stretches and soon you’ll be bending like a baby.