Becoming A Supple Leopard

Becoming a Supple Leopard: The Ultimate Guide to Resolving Pain, Preventing Injury, and Optimizing Athletic Performance

By Dr. Kelly Starrett

‘All human beings should be able to perform basic maintenance on themselves.”

It’s almost a call to arms, a revolution in who we are and how we treat our bodies. It shouldn’t be of course, but the idea that you can do work on your own body is one I have come to embrace. Not just lifting and building muscle but fixing your own injuries. Digging deeper into your own body, learning what is wrong with it and working through a path to fix it yourself.

The idea behind this book is that everyone should be able to move well, like jungle cats. That the body was designed for optimum movement for a long time. If you can’t now that doesn’t mean you can’t in the future.
Supple Leopard is the guide to better movement and performance. It can help you resolve any problem issues and how to do it yourself.

Kelly Starrett is an athlete, a former high level kayaker, the owner of San Francisco Crossfit and a Doctor of Physical Therapy. The guy knows a bit about movement. He uses his experience as an athlete and physio to turn his gym into a testing ground, a lab for physical movement and how to get better.

Supple Leopard is a textbook, like a dictionary for your body. When I have a physical issue from jiu-jitsu training or lifting weights this is the first place I turn. It’s a thick, dense read that is best to chip away at or pull out and use when needed.

His message that you have control over your own health is empowering. You can sort out and resolve many of your physical problems. It won’t be easy and it might not be quick but you can help yourself.

Where Do I Start?

Kelly wants you to commit to ten minutes a day of basic maintenance. Find your weak points and work on them. Can’t squat? He’ll show you a progression how to get there and then you best be doing some squat practice everyday. Bad shoulders and can’t lift overhead? There’s plenty for that too.

Stretch those shoulders
Stretch those shoulders

He talks about fundamental movement patterns and positions that we should all be able to get into. If we can’t something is wrong. So we then we should fix it.

Much of what we do all day everyday goes against how our bodies evolved. Sitting down, reaching forward all day tapping at keys or swiping at phones. Wearing huge soles between us and the ground as we drink and eat poor quality food. And then we try and exercise. Is it any surprise when that doesn’t go well?

Starrett thinks the human body is an amazing machine that can take an obscene amount of abuse. When it breaks it can break hard but it doesn’t have to.

Supple Leopard Basic Maintenance
Supple Leopard Basic Maintenance

Check out his website MobilityWOD for great free content including hundreds of videos. He’s also written a book on how to run without pain, Ready to Run. And has just come out with Deskbound on how to stand up from the desk and change your life. He and wife Juliet run Stand Up Kids where they try and get standing desks in schools, to stop our kids from getting messed up like we did. They are modern day super heroes.

Supple Leopard is a big expensive book but a must buy if you are going to be harder to destroy. It gives you tools to make yourself better and more awesome. The updated second edition contains even more content and is easier to use.

The Lesson

I try and take one thing away from every book I read. One piece of advice or knowledge that I can turn into action. Sometimes that’s hard, books try to teach too many things.

With Leopard it’s easy . You are in charge of your own health and wellbeing. Take control. Stretch and move everyday. No-one else can do that for you.


Also published on Medium.

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