Going Primal

We all know it’s important to exercise, that it keeps us healthy and all that. Our bodies want to move – sit too long and you’ll start fidgeting, stretching and moving around.

Paul Chek talked about the 7 primal movement patterns years ago – movementchek movement patterns necessary for normal everyday activities:

  • Gait – walk/run
  • Push
  • Pull
  • Bend
  • Squat
  • Lunge
  • Twist

Exercises in the gym are all based on 1 or more of these patterns, but if you repeatedly focus on 1 of these more than the others you’re going to eventually experience problems – muscle imbalances, compromised range of movement and injuries.  Similarly if you focus in moving in 1 direction too much (in the gym this is usually sagittal plane movements – that is, forwards and backwards – consider the design of your average gym machine) and ignoring other directions of movement (frontal plane – moving left to right, or transverse – rotational movements) you’ll end up with similar problems.

So a good exercise routine will incorporate all primal movement patterns and use different directions of movement.

Recently there’s been a rise in the popularity of ‘primal’ movement in the form of animal based crawling, twisting and ground based work which incorporates all the patterns and directions described above. It’s kind of like it’s the new CrossFit. There’s a range of different systems and programmes – Animal Flow, Primal Flow, Zuu, MovNat, just to name a few – but they all emphasise a movements based on gymnastics, dance, yoga, and parkour and finding a ‘natural flow’.

It’s a complete departure from your average gym workout and because we might have become used to moving in particular ways (or just not moving at all), it offers new challenges for us.  You may notice limitations in strength or joint movements that you were not aware of previously or find coordination or balance difficult.

primalI’ve been trying out some these in the gym (and so have some of you…) and finding that I really like them, it’s a change from the usual gym routine, its adaptable for different levels of ability and mostly, it’s fun to be rolling around and crawling on the floor!  It might be just another gym fad but it appeals to my Chek background and it’s good for us to try new ways of moving.