Updated: Sep 3, 2019
Movement is complex, but not complicated. If we reduce movement down to its most basic form, as it is in the neurodevelopmental sequence when we are babies (also known as milestones), we can see our 7 primal movements evolving as a baby grows.
7. Gait (crawl, walk, jog, run, sprint)
These 7 primal movements are fundamental to a well developing and evolving functional system in a child. As we grow, we tend to lose some of the movement capability in these 7 primal movements due to modern day living and advances in technology. If we look back on our ancestors, none of these movements were lost because they were used in full every single day.
For example, walking for long distances, running from threats, crawling to gather, squatting to cook, clean, pick and prepare food on a fire, pushing and pulling during building and collecting water, rotating to reach for things, lunging during hunting and gathering etc.
These days, we no longer need to do any of those tasks because we have everything at our fingertips, or have machines, desks, appliances, etc. to make it a lot easier for us, but also stopping the need for our bodies to move the way they are designed to.
There is no reason for us to rotate as everything we need is placed in front of us on the desk at work, there is no reason to crawl because we no longer need to gather or clean on our hands and knees, and there is no longer a need to squat or lunge because everything is strategically placed at waist height or higher.
We lose the beautiful flow, ease, mechanics, strength, flexibility, coordination, and balance that our bodies are primed to move through.
Our bodies are made to move through all these 7 primal movements. Our systems thrive off movement. It is our most underutilised medicine. This is so obvious when we look at what the brain does – it functions to produce adaptable and complex movements, and regulates emotions, learning, and relationships. The body is innately involved in all our processes. A great example of this is stress or anxiety. When we are anxious, some people feel it in their chest or stomach, get twitchy or wired, and can’t sleep. Anxiety produces the “fight or flight” mechanism in our body (I’m sure everyone would’ve heard of this), which is the reason these feelings come in during anxious times. During the days of our ancestors, anxiety and threats came at times of famine, or being chased by an animal. What did they do? They ran, walked, hiked, planted more crops, moved on to different settling grounds by walking. These days, many people will just sit there and continually think about how anxious they are.
Now, obviously these days, the things that cause us anxiety are not the same as they used to be, but our body responds the same way in the “fight or flight” mechanism. Both fight and flight require movement! Our body is yearning to move during each response. Each hormone and neurotransmitter released by the brain during anxiety, happiness, sadness, excited moods, and every other mood you experience, movement and exercise will optimise, assist, or support your body and mind to deal with these things optimally. This can be particularly important for women as we experience many hormonal changes during our cycle. Our body and mind are one, they are inseparable. The primal movements are not only crucial for our bodies to function optimally, but for our minds also. Our spirit, our body, our mind, all thrive off movement.
Getting back to our primal movement state takes time, patience, and expert advice. Contact Seed Exercise Physiology if you'd like to chat more about this!