Lessons from the Animal Kingdom: What can we learn from looking at the way wild animals move? Part 1

This blog series relates to the Primal Play 30 Day Animal Moves Program created by the Fitness Explorer, Darryl Edwards. These articles should give you an insight into why this program is not only helpful and fun, but I believe is also a requirement for most, if not all of us, to contribute to helping us get back to moving by design and using our whole bodies in ways that are innately within us. This not only includes working on fitness, strength, agility, mobility and adaptability, but also functional and practical movements that are needed in everyday life. As Darryl says, “Train like an animal, move like a human!”

I have attended several of Darryl’s Primal Play sessions in Sydney and the US, which always encompasses animal movements. I am currently doing this program and will be writing about my experiences as I move through each week (pun intended).

Before we dive into the program, first, let’s set some context…

 

Move like an animal

Picture this. A wild jaguar moving through its natural habit, nimbly and gracefully, the way her natural design enables her to; obtaining food and water, finding shelter, escaping from predation of larger animals. Visualise a crab on the sand of a beautiful beach with pristine waters, moving along the water’s edge, exactly like a crab was designed to move in order for it to survive and thrive within its natural landscape.

What can we gather and learn when we look at how animals move throughout their environment? How can this be helpful in our own lives?

Animals move exactly how they were designed to move. The way they move allows them to endure and live within their natural environment, keeping them strong, fit, agile and healthy.

Animals don’t exercise, they don’t have to be coached or trained how to move, they don’t consciously perform specific methods of movement or have the need for machines and equipment. They also don’t know any different. They just move as their innate expressions of their “animal-ness” enables them to… unless they are domesticated or placed in captivity, in which case their natural movement patterns would be hindered or changed. We can draw this same parallel with humans. Take us out of our natural environment and this shifts the way we move, think, behave and live.

 

The requirement for movement

Ok, I know what you might be thinking. But we are different to animals, we are more advanced than animals, and we move (exercise) a lot…. We ARE indeed animals of the Homo Sapien species, very closely related to our chimpanzee ancestors. Historically, we had the same types of requirements as all other animals on earth. We needed to be able to move in ways that allowed us to obtain food, water, shelter or escape from a predator. How we moved needed to be conducive to keeping us strong, fit, nimble, adaptable, agile, mobile and without injury.

Today we still require the same types of movement patterns, the only difference is, our natural environment is no longer, and modern life has traded movement for convenience. We now have the ability to drive to a window to obtain our food, have it home delivered or picked up from the store or market. We no longer hunt, gather and for the most part, grow our own food. We also use products that took more work for someone else to move (possibly in undesirable conditions) to produce them, meaning again, less movement/work for us. This can even be applied to smaller, everyday things we don’t even consider, which add up on a global level over a lifetime. For example… Nuts come to us in a neat little package and have already been removed from their shell. We don’t have to do any work at all to be able to obtain or eat them. No searching, no climbing, no picking, no collecting, no squatting while cracking them open ourselves. Another story for another time!

The bottom line is, we no longer move as we were designed to move, nor do we move as regularly, functionally or practically throughout the day as our biology so deeply requires. Our DNA needs and expects these regular movement inputs/nutrients for health and life, and when we don’t get them, we see contribution to health issues, musculoskeletal injuries and deformation, and a species of fragile people (myself included) that can’t move properly in life. For a deeper dive feel free to check out my blog: Movement vs Exercise: What were we designed to do?

 

Full body movement

Animals use their whole bodies. They do not isolate movement patterns or muscle groups. This enables fitness and strength for general movement, not just for a particular situation. By design, we should be movement generalists and able to perform a wide range of movements, rather than movement specialists, which has its place, but also its limitations.

 

Movement in our natural environment

We must realise that we humans are not separate from nature… we are a part of nature. We are nature. Therefore, moving within a natural environment is inherently a part of us. However, the landscape and life we live today is an expression of our limited connection to nature (the earth, ourselves, other humans, animals and living beings).

What can we do to improve this? We can honour our natural design by taking a more conscious approach to natural living, within a modern context. We can look for opportunities to move more throughout our day and get outside as much as possible to move in local parks, national parks, beaches, mountainous areas or even backyards. We can also make this part of our social time by moving and playing with others. This also honours the tribal and communal part of our nature and is a key component of enhancing movement in our everyday lives.

 

Human factors that limit our movement by design

There are many limiting factors of life as a modern human that influence and affect the way we move. Whether it be fear, social and cultural conditioning towards “exercise”, conflicting health information, poor food and lifestyle choices, limiting beliefs, psychological, neurological and behavioural programming; we are constantly faced with external pressures and stimuli that mask our natural instincts of expressing our human-ness. This applies not only with movement but in all aspects of our innate capabilities to maintain our default state of health.

In addition, our movement patterns are not only sub-optimal due to structural ailments to our bodies, but also impairment to physiological functioning. The prominence of health problems today means that every cell and every system is impacted. For example, the nervous system plays a primary role in movement and the way our bodies interact with and perceive our surrounding environment. Impaired functioning can result in challenges to perform movements to our full potential that may require balance, coordination, agility, adaptation and problem solving. These are things that wild animals do not typically have to deal with.

Movement is essential for life. Learning from how animals move and looking through the lens of what our natural design requires of us to be healthy, can give us insight into how we can be better equipped to move through life (figuratively and literally) as fit and healthy as we were designed to be.

In part 2 of this blog series, I will outline my experience of the program so far and go over what the program involves. For now, here’s some further information about Darryl Edwards, his methods and the program.

 

Check out the Animal Moves program and receive 15% off through the links below:

  1. For the full program including a “Playbook” to track your progress, access to the private Animal Moves Program Facebook page and a bonus pdf: The Importance of Play, head to this link to receive 15% off the total price of the program. Or head to www.reconnected.me/animalmoves (Recommended version, as you get the full experience, online support, comprehensive tracking and reporting)
  2. For the full program only (solo version), go here to receive 15% off the total price as well. Or head to www.reconnected.me/animalmoves2

*Full disclosure. These links help to support what I do here at Reconnected.me… but at no extra cost to you. Your support contributes to enabling me to keep bringing you value on the podcast and website. I thank you in advance with deep appreciation and gratitude.

 

Stay tuned for my conversation with Darryl on the Reconnected.me podcast released in the first week of May.

 

 

You can find Darryl at:

Websites: www.primalplay.com

www.thefitnessexplorer.com

Instagram: www.instagram.com/fitnessexplorer

Facebook: www.facebook.com/fitnessexplorer

Twitter: www.twitter.com/fitnessexplorer

 

My other movement influences and teachers

 

Thanks for being here!

If you liked (or didn’t like) what you have just read, then feel free to send me some feedback as I’d love to hear from you! You can reach me at reconnected.me@gmail.com

DISCLAIMER: All content I share here on my blog is written from my own personal inquiry, experiences, thoughts and opinions and is not intended to replace medical or lifestyle advice from a practising professional.

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