Our very own Coach Panda brings you his thoughts on the new book, “Becoming a Supple Leopard: The Ultimate Guide to Resolving Pain, Preventing Injury, and Optimizing Athletic Performance” by Dr. Kelly Starrett with Glen Cordoza.
I am self-proclaimed movement geek. I have been fascinated with how to move and how to teach people to move for years. This fascination and passion for movement followed me (or perhaps drove me) to yoga, massage, acrobatics and Brazilian jiu-jitsu and then to CrossFit. It led me to great teachers like Greg Glassman, Glenn Black, Mark Rippetoe, Jill Miller and, obviously, Kelly Starrett (also known as K-Starr).
By the time K-Starr came out with his website, mobilitywod.com, I was already a big fan and had been watching his videos in the CrossFit Journal. I was an immediate fan and follower of his daily video blog posts – I tried all the mobs on myself and then used them with clients to great success. If he had done nothing else, that would have been enough. However, K-Starr has gone further and really synthesized and organized the important processes of human movement and athletic performance into a prescription for doing things correctly and thus relieving your pain and improving your performance. To put it mildly, this book is revolutionary.
Humans have been trying to solve the problem of how to move better, move faster, prevent injury and be pain-free for thousands of years. Gymnastics, yoga, pilates, weightlifting, massage, rolfing, physical therapy and foam rolling are just some of the modalities that have tried to solve the riddles of the human body. Kelly Starrett has gone to great lengths to gather all the loose threads and weave them together into a cohesive theory of human movement and achievement that deals with performance, posture and pain.
Let me state this clearly without any hyperbole: Becoming a Supple Leopard is the best book ever written on the human body, pain management and improving athletic performance. Who should buy this book? Everyone.
If you’re like me and have spent years coaching and studying many different movement modalities, you’ll have a lot of “Duh! Of course, why didn’t I think of that?” moments. If you’re new to thinking about body movement, then this book will open your eyes. The people that will have the hardest time with this book will be those people who thought they had it all figured it out. If you’re deeply entrenched in a particularly rigid style, you might find some of the concepts in here counter to what you’ve been told before and therefore hard to digest. However, everyone with an open mind can benefit from this book.
The book starts with the premise that everyone should be able to perform basic maintenance on their own bodies, live pain free and perform optimally. It makes good sense, but, sadly, this idea is counter to the way most people interact with their own bodies. We, as a culture, generally look for outside, third-party, fixes for those things that ail us. For most, self-care is too much responsibility and too much work. Those people for whom “easy” will no longer suffice, will embrace this book as an owner’s manual for a high-performance body.
What you will find when you open the book is pretty sophisticated. The first half of the book is the conceptual framework and guidelines for understanding good movement mechanics and rules for mobility. The second half of the book is a bodypart-by-bodypart look at mobility techniques. If you are just looking for a few “tricks” to improve your flexibility, then you can just skip to the back of the book. However, if you are a coach or movement teacher, then you will want to read the first half of the book thoroughly and understand the framework in which this book fits.
Kelly speaks directly to the CrossFit and strength and conditioning communities, but the principles and ideas are broad and encompass all human movements. Whether you are a dancer, gymnast, yogi or martial artist you can find value in Becoming a Supple Leopard.