I just wrapped up a super fun conversation with one of my favorite folks in the Paleo sphere, the great Robb Wolf! In our chat, I realized my explanation of how a person can shape their daily movement practice was a bit nebulous. Our bodies crave adaptation and we achieve this by keeping our system guessing with a variety of healthy stressors. This is referred to as eustress and includes various movement practices, thermoregulation, public speaking, etc. We receive an affluence of healthy adaptation by moving with the natural patterns of mountains, trees, water, dance, martial arts, and general outsideness.
Our technological age has caused an interesting phenomena. Animals are ingeniously built to evolve to their environment because superfluous traits are bred out by nature, as Darwin established. We are being faced with the convenient dilemma of outsourcing our movement, temperature regulation, memory, immune system and most things that make us human. Don’t worry about it bro, I got it. You can just lay there in your air conditioned room and remain entranced in virtual reality.
Our society is experiencing the growing pains of our environment shifting faster than our human organism is able to. For millennia, shifts in our species came slow and since the industrial revolution, our environment is shifting at light speed. The growing pains we are seeing as a species has manifested in the form of depression, diabetes, social anxiety, obesity, sleep disorders and general discontentment. The question is are we OK with our bodies devolving so we are comfortable in our inability to perform the tasks computers now do for us or do we want to take a stand and maintain our human autonomy? Let’s leverage the power of technology and still push the limits of our movement potential.
We don’t need to take down a wooly mammoth in order to replicate the movements of our ancestors. Let’s break down some obvious examples of what we can do in an everyday urban lifestyle to maintain connection to our natural movement.
1) Third-world squats (ass to ankles). Our hip/knee integrity is dependent on our ability to move through a full range of motion with control. Not to mention this position is how a human is built to defecate. A full squat opens the anorectal angle, allowing the accordion that is your rectum to open and release continence. Speaking of continence, did we mention pelvic floor disorders are an unnecessary epidemic easily avoidable with a good functional squat practice (and overall improved movement quality and quantity). The squat is a human resting position and can be utilized whenever you would just be standing around. Push your boundaries and drop the concern of others judgment, your health is worth it.
2) Go barefoot more often and develop your arch support and sensation to your feet.
3) Pay attention to how you walk. Are you upright, strong, utilizing peripheral vision and moving through a full integrated range of motion from toe to ankle to hip to spine to head and shoulders? Every moment is an opportunity to practice your movement and will compound to create big changes.
4) Ease up on our obsessive sanitation of everything. Get your hands in the dirt and become comfortable with a little bacteria. It strengthens our body’s immune system, digestion, mood and most any process you could shake a stick at. Our bodies contain 10x more bacteria DNA than human DNA. When we are attacking bacteria on or in our body, we are in fact attacking what makes us human!
5) Make eye contact! Play this game; every time you run into someone, be sure to recognize what color eyes they have. If you don’t know, you weren’t paying enough attention.
6) Challenge yourself with new activities as often as possible. Put yourself in uncomfortable positions whenever you get the chance. If you are not actively stretching your boundaries, you are likely shrinking them. With time we can become suffocated by our own imposed limits. Take a new dance class, martial arts class, public speaking, singing, take a calculus class, ask the girl at work out on a date, speak your mind in (most) every situation!
7) Play with thermoregulation. Adaptation to various temperatures have been linked to increasing circulation, mitigating depression, burning fat, strengthening immune system and numerous unexamined systems surely are stimulated. Finish every shower with cold water, jump in rivers as much as possible, be spontaneous and run through sprinklers when the opportunity arises.
8) Have more sex. Need I say more…
9) Start working into sprints. As far as primal movement goes, this is up there with squats. Not to mention the long list of hormonal and fat burning perks we get from the occasional blast of intensity.
10) Move functionally in every situation. Make it a game to see how well you can pick that pen up off the ground, write a check, carry groceries, or send a text message. It is not the weight that kills us but how we carry it. Keep this in mind in every moment and you will surely feel serious improvements.