I keep being asked, what do I mean by “natural movement”
…here are some of my thoughts
We can consider a movement natural if it's innate to humans from a biomechanical and physiological perspective. Although, not only utilitarian but also expressive movement patterns are part of this category, as they play an important role in social contexts (e.g. dance, imitations). Over the course of evolution, these were the movements which have shaped our bodies and minds. Yet, during the past centuries, we rapidly grew distance from this evolutionary heritage, with the growing absence of a vital necessity for movement and physical capability. Even worse, the gradual adaptation to our man-made environments and modern ways of living slowly robbing us of our natural physical capacity, reshaping our bodies and degrading our health.
We can all agree that doing more exercise is healthy, although what we really need is a shift in lifestyle and physical behaviour. Instead of exercising, we need to incorporate conscious movement into our day-to-day life. Movement is not supposed to be a chore, but an expression of being alive. A promising approach lies in examining how our ancestors used to move and live. Returning to our natural movement patterns, and moving as humans meant could restore what has been lost in our rushing, modern life.
The practice of natural movements can provide a holistic, organic approach to improving and maintaining strength, vigour and freedom of movement. Frequent and varied movement is not only key to achieving physical competency, but also a foundational biological necessity and a potential remedy for many chronic diseases rooted in our lifestyle.
Natural movements are not only biomechanically suited for our bodies, but also practical and applicable in the real world. This practical competency brings about the expansion of one’s physical comfort zone, a sense of ownership of the body, courage and willingness to take action. The practice of natural movements implies interaction with the environment and response to various organic situations. Complex, non-automatic movements require a great degree of awareness, reinforcing a connection between the mind and the body.
MovNat did a really great job putting things together and providing not only the vocabulary of natural movements but also a framework for practice.
MovNat is a physical education system, that reintroduces natural movement patterns into a fitness context. It is based on the premise that our natural vitality and fitness can be restored by returning to our natural physical behaviour. It builds upon fundamental movement skills and modern exercise science. The practice mainly involves practical and developmental movement patterns. The practical patterns involve locomotive movements, which we developed to navigate in complex environments, manipulative movements, meant for lifting, carrying and throwing objects, and resting positions. The developmental movements are part of a uniform developmental sequence which every child goes through in order to develop their early motor control abilities and establish a physical baseline.
The MovNat method follows a skill-based approach, where the emphasis is placed on developing and refining movement skills, and utilising them in a progressive manner, in order to gain practical and applicable capacity (strength and mobility which translates to the given physical activity). Human movement efficiency and practical physical competency are the main key aspects of the training. The acquisition of skills starts from ground up, from easy everyday patterns to highly complex movement skills involving jumping, vaulting and climbing, covering a full range of practical human movement abilities.
Developmental movements and ground positions play important role in the practice. They are providing the foundation for our motor control abilities and our baseline physical function. They show great benefits in joint mobility, stability and postural integrity.
Besides physical preparedness, the MovNat framework also focuses on perceptual-motor development, and on honing our ability to respond to dynamic contextual demands. The true expression of human physical competency is the ability to adapt, react and create solutions for movement problems.
Formal training gets truly complete with gradual lifestyle integration of natural movements. We must seek opportunities to move in our day-to-day life regardless of potential social and cultural criticism. Movement is our way to interact with the world around us, and an expression of our human nature.
I believe that as we mature as humanity we will slowly realize that we have to live in harmony with the planet, each other, and ourselves again. The way we look at our bodies and movement is also shifting in this direction.
“We need to start seeing our own animality not as a “lower” plane of behavior in life, but as the manifestation of our biological foundation and essential biological needs that we should not deny.”
- Erwan Le Corre
So what is natural movement?
…a practice, a lifestyle, a philosophy.