Can has Avatar? Training like the Na’vi
The first time I watched the film I enjoyed myself, (Go #Stanford ), even though my friend and I got stuck in the first row of an IMAX theatre. Oh noes…
The second time I watched the film, I spent the first half of it thinking about how well the Na’vi move compared to modern humans on this planet. And guess what, they move like hunters and warriors whereas most of us move like, well, sedentary couch patatas.
**Warning: very minor Avatar movie spoilers ahead**
So, what can we learn from Avatar, beyond the importance of “proprioceptive stim” and Nervous System Development? Well, if we start at the feet (an undertrained body part some would say) you’ll note that the first time Jake-Sully runs in the Pandoran forest, escaping some rampaging beast, he’s wearing extremely restrictive boots, which block mechanoreceptive stimuli, inhibiting proper proprioception.
In contrast, by the end of the movie Jake-Sully is bounding barefoot, more like the Ramaruri (Tarahumara) of Born to Run, even though his SI joint movement could still have been a bit better. In a voiceover, Jake-Sully talked of how his feet got stronger (they do if you train barefoot or with VFFs and learned to trust his instincts over time.
That said, he still didn’t move as well as the body actor that played Na’vi princess Neytiri, who had incredible mobility especially in the hips and lower body. Check out how many of the Na’vi can do a full, deep squat with planted heels like Sara Cheatham (Sr RKC & Z trainer), the next time you watch the film.
While full ROM (range of motion) may seem unimportant, even if you don’t do bilateral barbell overhead deep squats ass to grass, you should know that you won’t get the most of your glutes unless they are activated and you go below parallel. And while your team may not have the luxury of having a FMS or Z-health certified coach to screen, test, and assess your athletes, having them do a dowel overhead squat FMS-style is an easy way to reveal asymmetries and movement dysfunction (also check out the ASLR and single-leg squat pattern if you have time).
I’m not suggesting that athletes spend all their time in corrective exercise, or skip off-season training to go train with Erwan Le Corre, MovNat style, but perhaps we could all benefit from being a little more like an Exuberant Animal, running sometimes free in the wilds.
I’ll end with just my amazement at how simply and effectively Neytiri coaches Jake-Sully to shoot an old-school bow. She knuckles his abs to make sure he stays tight (in the core with good IAP) and tall (in the spine), nudges his right shoulder down & back to “pack”, and elevates the opposing shoulder, all without words. If you serve as a formal or informal strength or movement coach for your Ultimate squad, do you talk too much? Forget the chattering monkey brain and remember that “monkey see, monkey do”–mirror neurons FTW.
Ultimate players world-wide, I see you!