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Level I "Counter-Actives"



Why do you brush your teeth? Because you want to “maintain” your teeth and keep them functioning well for many years. Why can’t you just brush your teeth 14 times on Sunday? Well, it just doesn’t work that way - maintenance is about frequency and persistence. You must do it on a regular basis.


What about your ability to move? What are you doing for the maintenance of your joints and your movement skills? I suggest that you should start a “body maintenance” program today. And, guess what? You can’t do it once a week. You also cannot do this in 2 hours once a week. How about 3 minutes per day? Yes, that would be a very good start.

The Enemies

Now, why do we need to do this maintenance stuff? There are many reasons but here are two very good ones: sitting and wearing shoes.

For most of us, all of our joints, our spine, and our muscles worked quite well when we were children. The body is an incredibly adaptive organism. If you practice piano, video games, typing, or tennis you will get better at these activities. If you work in the garden you will get calluses. If you lift weights you will build muscles. Your body is also adapting to the everyday, constant activities of sitting and wearing shoes. How many hours each day do you practice sitting and wearing shoes? How much time do you spend counteracting the effects of these activities? What are the side effects of these activities?

Side Effects

The primary side effect of wearing shoes all day is simple: the foot loses its innate flexibility. A shoe wraps the foot up to protect it but it also effectively prevents you from moving it in the many normal ways for which it was designed.

Sitting for many hours a day also has many side effects. Let’s assume you have an efficient sitting position. (Yes, there is an efficient way of sitting and I am sure that you have become very good at this skill!) In this position your upper back is relaxed and rounded. Your shoulders are also relaxed and rounded slightly forward. In this working position you will generally move your head closer to your work. In this position the neck is extended forward and very curved and the head is pointing somewhat upward (as if looking at a computer monitor). Because you are seated, by definition, there is an acute angle between your torso and your upper leg. Your feet probably are close together (or crossed) and your knees are apart.

Without any other activity in your life here is what will happen:

  • Your upper back (or thoracic spine) will become permanently rounded with your shoulders forward
  • Your head will become permanently positioned in the forward position
  • You will lose the ability to stand erect because the torso and legs will no longer straighten to form a line
  • Your legs will be rotated outward (instead of pointing straight ahead) and your walking will start to resemble a waddle.
  • You will lose mobility in your wrists and hands

This doesn’t sound like a pretty picture, does it? Yet, take a look around the next time you are at a shopping mall. This is exactly what the largest percentage of our population looks like.


All exercise programs are only useful if you make them a part of a permanent lifestyle change. So, the best way to do this is to start slowly and observe the improvements that a small effort will give you in return. This is why the “Counter-Actives” program was created. It addresses the most common problems (other than obesity) in our culture. The “Counter-Actives” program is specifically designed to counteract the negative effects of these problems. You will enter the program in as a beginner. Try it for a month. You will find the benefits are more than worth the time invested.

Here are the Level I counter actives:

  • Eyes (up/down + left/right)
  • Hands (up/down + left/right)
  • Feet (up/down + left/right)
  • Neck (left/right rotations + forward/backward glides)
  • Thoracic (left/right rotations + forward/backward flexion)
  • Lunge Position Hip Circles
  • Shoulder Circles (side + overhead)


This entire program should take about 3 minutes. Do you have enough time to do this everyday? Here is the program again with a few more details:

  1. Eyes – Stand erect with your feet about 12 inches apart and the feet parallel. Keep your head still as you move your eyes upward as far as possible and then downward as far as possible. Try to focus on something at the upper and lower limits. Repeat this three times. Again, keeping your head still, move your eyes left as far as possible and then right as far as possible. Focus on something at the limits of the range of vision. Repeat this three times. Note: This exercise might make you feel dizzy. If so, hold onto something or sit down until you get better at it.
  2. Hands – Stand erect with your feet about 12 inches apart and the feet parallel. Put your elbows close by your side and keep them there. Start with your palms facing downward. Flex your fingers and hands upward to face your palm away from you. Then, flex your fingers and hands downward to face your palm toward you. Repeat this three times. Next, rotate your hands inward as far as possible. Try to turn your palm upward or further. Then, rotate your hands the other direction as far as possible. Repeat this three times.
  3. Feet – Hold onto something with one hand for balance. Raise one foot off the floor. Flex your toes and foot upward as far as possible. Then, flex your toes and foot as far downward as possible. Repeat this three times. Next, rotate your foot inward so that the sole of the foot faces inward. You should feel your ankle tilt while you do this. Then rotate your foot the other direction. Repeat this three times. Perform both of these exercises with the other foot.
  4. Neck - Stand erect with your feet about 12 inches apart and the feet parallel. Slowly rotate your head to the left and then to the right. Keep your shoulders still. Imagine that each of the seven vertebrae in your neck is rotating. Repeat this three times. Next, move your head forward as far as possible while keeping it vertical then pull it back as far as possible. This should resemble the way a chicken or a dove walks. Repeat this three times.
  5. Thoracic - Stand erect with your feet about 12 inches apart and the feet parallel. Slowly rotate you chest and shoulders to the left as far as you can. Then, rotate to the right. Try to feel the vertebrae in your upper back rotating. Repeat this three times. Next, Pinch your shoulder blades together, look back and open up your ribs and chest. Then drop your head, collapse your ribcage, and try to round your upper back. Repeat this three times.
  6. Lunge Position Hip Circles – Move your left foot slightly forward and slightly left. Bend your left knee slightly and lock your right knee. Maintain an erect posture and insure that the feet remain parallel. Place 60-70% of your weight on the left foot and leg. Make three circles with your right hip while keeping your right knee locked and the tailbone tucked under. Repeat the circles the other direction. Then, change legs and do both exercises on the other leg.
  7. Shoulder Circles - Stand erect with your feet about 12 inches apart and the feet parallel. Put your right arm out to the side at shoulder level with the elbow locked and palm facing forward. Draw three circles both directions at shoulder height. Then, put your arm overhead (as vertical as possible without discomfort) with the palm facing forward. Draw thee circles in both directions overhead. Next, repeat both exercises with the other arm.





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