We came into this world limber and curious about our environment. We started on the ground and crawled our way around towards anything and everything. Eventually, we learned how to walk and then talk and slowly the world that was so wondrous was made to make ‘sense.' However, we were never taught how to move, just as we weren’t taught how to smile either. Moving came naturally to us because we were born with the innate ability to do so.
As children, we used our bodies as much as our minds to investigate and explore the world. We spent hours crawling around on all fours or simply wiggling our way towards things and then squatting down to examine them. Before long, we learned to walk as our legs became stronger and then spent most of our time running around and bringing the house down.
We had superior control of our bodies and frames despite any prior training. In fact, it took a certain kind of training to unwire our inborn movement abilities as we became more and more adept at navigating classrooms, office spaces and the insides of our neat homes. We became increasingly proficient at moving from one seat to the next and at sitting for hours at end staring at books and now computer screens. Owing to our highly adaptable nature as Homo sapiens. However, we have become efficient indoor athletes with a lifetime of training in the domestic environment.
All is not lost, however, through certain training, we can re-wire and re-kindle our primal movement ability just as we unwired it. Don’t worry; it won’t take years, and you don’t even need to go to the gym, let alone spend hours lifting heavy weights. Your body weight will do just fine.
The squat is the most basic and fundamental movement pattern that our bodies would naturally assume as children. Notice any infant at a playground and you will see them effortlessly sit into a perfect squat as they bend down to inspect some dirt or an insect or whatever. The hips move back without any strain; the knees remain well behind the toes at the bottom, and there is ample ankle dorsiflexion even in a full deep squat.
We, adults have to be taught how to squat properly with good form, as if, it’s an alien and foreign movement pattern. Why squat? It’s just how our human bodies were designed to sit, in the absence, of course of chairs and other furniture. It’s also how we were designed to take a shit before the western toilet. Now, research is showing that the full squat is actually the most beneficial posture in which to poop, since squatting opens the anal sphincter and relaxes the puborectalis muscle that straightens the rectum. This allows the poop to flow easily through and out.
The squat is our natural way of sitting and also helps build strong legs and a solid core. You don’t have to go to the gym. Just incorporate the squat in your training and enjoy awesome benefits.
Crawling– Movement on all fours
Even more basic than the squat is the crawl. Children crawl naturally and run ever more naturally without the common postural flaws we observe in adults who’ve taken up running or jogging after a years spent sitting being sedentary. That’s because, much like running the crawl is a cross body movement pattern where ones move an opposite hand and foot at the same time. In fact, if one were to take the crawl and invert it so that the person crawling was perpendicular to the ground, the result would be jogging or running depending on the speed of motion of the crawl.
The crawl has many variations, but the simplest way to perform this powerful primal movement is to first, get on all fours with knees bent slight and rest your upper body on the palms of your hands with relatively straight arms. Next, move an opposite leg with an opposite hand and move forward slowly while maintaining the bend in your knees. Over time you will feel more comfortable and you’ll be able to perform harder variations. The crawl strengthens your core, back, shoulders, arms and legs. It’s great for the entire body and it’ll help you move better upright and run better as well.
Jumping and Flipping
We are naturally wired to jump when we’re excited and want to express our enthusiasm, hence the expression ‘jump for joy’. Few we can jump this day, so instead we shake or tremble with joy. Sitting has weakened our knees, ruined gluteal activation and destroyed our spines among many other things.
A great tool to start jumping again and feeling that most basic and primal thrill of being in the air is the trampoline. It’s safe and easy on your joints, plus it’s great for the family. Jumping will bring the life back into your knees as well as into your soul. You can progress to plyometrics and other tougher jumping drill if you wish, but even just playing around has immense benefits.
If you’re willing to go a step further, then there is nothing like learning to flip either forward or backward. It isn’t nearly as tough or impossible as you think and with proper guidance, it’ll help open up a whole new world of movement for you.
Our ability to think and imagine as human beings is deeply connected to the complexity of movement capabilities with which we were born. Incorporate the above 3 simple primal moves and become the evolved ape that you were born to be.
Author Bio: Andrew is the founder and CEO at Aim Workout. As a passionate fitness professional and tri-athlete, there is no adventure he won’t embark on. From mountain biking, deep sea diving, rock climbing and cycling to boxing and mixed martial arts, Andrew has a penchant for the wild and extreme.