The concept of fitness is relatively new if you think about it. Before the 60s, the idea of members of the normal public engaging in exercise for the sake of exercise was quite novel.
Fitness as a committed effort was usually reserved for athletic entertainers and military service members.
Its popularity as a public health protocol only really came to the fore in the late 20th century.
That’s also because being fit was something we once took for granted.
The thing is, we were way more physically active by nature and necessity than we are today. So what we call fitness in the modern age was quite literally a walk in the park at some stage in our history.
Through the advancement of settled societies and industrialization, the human body has found less need to engage with the physical challenges it was designed to withstand. We have either eliminated, reduced or sheltered ourselves from what was once a daily routine.
This is what has lead to the sedentary nature of modern humans.
But there was a time when our bodies were fully engaged machines, where every inch of our musculoskeletal system was firing off to produce work and movement.
This primal way of functioning is now making a comeback as part of mainstream fitness.
Primal movement is a full-body engagement of your biomechanical system to allow for functional mobility in multiple positions and planes of motion.
supports your bodyweight and transports it using all four limbs and adjusting position and direction according to the environment.
Many forms and methods of primal movement training have been developed. Disciplines such as parkour and Animal Flow, are just two examples.
But the basis of it all is natural biomechanics. No gimmicks or fancy moves, just pure movement.
The benefits of primal movement exist both on a physical and a mental level.
The obvious physical benefits are strength, new muscle activation, increased flexibility and functional range of motion and improved endurance.
On the mental side, you have increased cognitive awareness, body awareness, spatial awareness, and mind-body coordination.
You then have some neuromuscular adaptations that sort of bridge the gap between the mental and physical benefits.
This article will dive into a few primal movement exercises you can try for these amazing benefits.
On all fours stack your wrist, elbow and shoulder joints so that there is a direct vertical line forming from your hand to your shoulder.
With your legs, flex your knee to 90 degrees, taking care to stack your kees below the corresponding hip joint.
Your knees should be off the ground at this stage.
Now begin to move contralaterally. What that means is you move your arm with the opposite leg, so the left arm moves with the right leg and vice versa.
This method of movement may take time to get used to, a sign that certain mind-body links need to be established which is one of the great benefits.
The bear crawl or traveling beast an be done in reverse or laterally (side to side)
The lateral ape is a smooth fluid movement on all fours.
In a crouching position, you place your hands out to one side of your body. From here you perform a jump while pulling your lower body towards and past your hand position.
You then reposition your hands out to the same side again and cycle the motion.
The lateral ape can and should be performed in both directions for balanced adaptation.
The crab stance is a sort of inverted bear/beast stance in that you’re in a bridge position where you are on all fours but your chest and belly are facing up.
In this position, point your hands outwards and begin crawling, again, contralaterally for the sake of efficient and fluid movement.
You can perform the crab walk backward and laterally as well.
The kick through is more of a transitional move than a traveling form.
With the kick through, you are building strength, balance, and coordination while also looking pretty cool.
Simply start with one hand anchored to the ground and the opposite foot doing the same lined up just across. Each other.
For example, if you anchor with your right hand, you anchor across with your left foot.
In this position, you thread of kick through your right leg with your left hand raised in the air and your body leaning back, pushing your hips forward.
Alternate sides to experience the full effect.
Today, fitness has been boiled down to mostly lifting weights and running or cycling.
Activities that were hardly ever part of our predominant functions.
By engaging our natural movement and transport mechanisms, and challenging them across varying planes of motion, we can truly tap into what it means to be a functional machine.