Our Journal

4 Lessons This Doctor Learned From Natural Movement

Explore, Learn, Grow, Ask Why

By Phil Lombardo, DPT, Level 2 MovNat Certified Trainer

MovNat connects my physical training to the rest my life.

I have always believed that my workouts provided me with many benefits, but looking back, I now see that I lacked connection between my physical training and my larger life.  Maybe you have felt it too.

What I found through MovNat was conscious movement in life. I think it’s interesting that I’ve been practicing meditation and Zen studies for over 10 years, but somehow I had never implemented those practices when it came to my training and movement patterns.  Walking, lifting, getting up and down, these were movements I engaged in on a daily basis. I had always considered how to perform these movements efficiently and capably, but developing conscious awareness of movement has brought a vibrancy and connection that I had previously lacked.

“Think with your whole body, move with your whole mind” is commonly heard in MovNat. And there is an extensive amount of scientific research that shows the benefits of that! But what does that mean to me? Join me someday on a hike. I love the feeling of the ground on my bare feet, the excitement and fear of balancing across a fallen tree, jumping from rock to rock, climbing a tree (something I never did as a kid), and seeing how long I can carry a rock or log, just for the fun of it.  There is very little in this world that makes me feel more alive.

I believe movement is life. Movement against resistance builds strength, movement through range of motion provides mobility and flexibility. Completing a task through movement creates competence.

As a Doctor of Physical Therapy, I am trained to provide numerous corrective exercises, joint mobilizations and manual techniques. I am proud to be able to alleviate my patients’ symptoms on a daily basis. That’s all good and I’m honored to practice the art of physical therapy. But while I used to believe corrective exercises were the best way to help my patients on their personal path to healing, I have come to believe that building capability and resilience is a much more powerful intervention than simply fixing one deficit after the next.

Instead of teaching windmills to improve thoracic rotation, I teach rolling and reaching in varied positions (and I practice these myself daily). With nearly every patient, I discuss transitioning to barefoot (properly and gradually), sitting on the floor for meals or computer work, walking while on the phone for meetings, and incorporating free play or unstructured movement into one’s practice. I’ve made these all a part of my life and I’m experiencing the benefits every day. It’s not that I don’t ever sit in a chair, I just don’t want to be dependent on it.  I want to be capable to sit on the floor and to be able to get up afterwards.

For me, at this point in my career, I believe working with the human body must connect to my life’s purpose and connect to my patients’ lives. Manipulating objects, locomotion and combatives (the 3 fundamental MovNat skills) connect to all areas of our life where movement plays an essential role: dance, play, martial arts, physical labor, sports, sex, hiking and exploration.

I have found that in my life and in my clinical practice that the fundamental skills taught in MovNat ultimately benefit all of the other physical activities in our lives, none more so than rough-housing with my kids (which happens fairly regularly). Tripod get ups, back rolls, foot-hand crawls, carrying, and sometimes even deadlifts and cleans. If we believe that our life and movement have purpose, then it would follow that we similarly practice with purpose.

Final Words

When I ask WHY my patient comes to physical therapy, I encourage them to think of long term goals, the end game. Very often I hear about goals that are shortsighted: to overcome an inconvenience, a deficit or an injury. But I have a responsibility beyond that, a responsibility to share everything that I see with them.

I encourage my patients, especially those of whom are athletes, to consider what life will be like after sports, or physical therapy, 20 to 30 years from now. What fundamentals will they need in order to live a whole life as a human walking this earth. There are so many aspects to their lives including relationships, family, parenting, recreation, play and their relationship with nature.

Similarly I encourage you as you are readying this, to move and live with purpose, always asking WHY. We all have different purposes and we all have different paths in life. We are all unique beings. When I ask myself WHY I practice, the list is long and includes my own health as well as the well-being of my family, friends and community.  I passionately practice MovNat the same way that I study anatomy, kinesiology and other facets of my practice. To me, these are the the fundamentals of what it means for me to be human, to live a whole and fulfilling life.

I’ll leave you with a favorite quote from Stephen Wright: “I plan to live forever.  So far, it’s working.”  I figure that if my life goes according to plan, I sure as hell better be able to get up off the ground 200 years from now. How about you?

Bio: Dr. Phil Lombardo is a Level 2 MovNat Certified Trainer who has extensive experience in the care of both sports injuries and general musculoskeletal injuries for patients of all ages. He is the Vice President and Clinic Manager of Paramus Orthopedic Physical Therapy. In 2007, Phil joined the top one percent of all Doctors of Physical Therapy in the country by becoming an APTA Board Certified Specialist in Sports (SCS). Dr. Lombardo has distinguished himself as a provider of choice in Sports Medicine, and is recognized by the National Federation of State High School Association as a Certified Coach specializing in Track and Field (NFHS). His expert knowledge as a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS), a Sports Performance Enhancement Specialist (PES), and a Certified Corrective Exercise Specialist (CES) guarantees his patients the highest quality of care.

Phil says, “Becoming a Level 2 MovNat certified instructor, hosting the first-ever MovNat Elements Workshop in NJ and then becoming the first-ever licensed MovNat facility in NJ brings me great joy as I help people explore, learn and grow through their movement practice and journey.”

You can learn more about him at his website https://www.axiomfit.club, and on his Instagram accounts: Movement Philosophy, Paramus PT, and Axiom Fitness.

Next Steps

If you’d like to learn more and deepen your natural movement practice, consider attending the MovNat Level 1 Certification or a MovNat Workshop. We hold events all around the world. Or, find a MovNat Certified Trainer or Gym in your area. We also offer MovNat Online Coaching as an alternative to live instruction.

Most people know that they should be more physically active. Some even recognize the incredible value in a system like MovNat. But they struggle with actually implementing natural movement into their daily lives. That’s why we work closely with people from all walks of life to help them move better, get healthier and stronger, and discover their true potential with natural movement fitness. It’s also why we work extensively with health and fitness professionals who understand the value of this new paradigm and are eager to start implementing it with their clients.

So, if you’re ready to take your movement practice to the next level, this is your chance. Please join our community and check out an event near you soon.

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MovNat Certification Program


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