Your body wants to move. It craves natural movement. And while any movement is better than nothing, there are some natural movements that can and should be done more often than just during designated practice sessions or workout days.
And this is one of the so-called “secrets” of really good natural movers. They don’t just “put in their time” during a workout a few times a week. They integrate natural movement into their daily lives. They make a habit of movement. This leads to better movement, mobility, and fitness with very little effort.
So, below, you’ll find some natural movements that are worth adding to your daily routine, and that you can’t really overdo. You can do these at home, at the gym, in nature, or wherever you happen to be. If you practice them often, your body will thank you!
1) Deep Breathing
If you’re reading this, then you’re probably breathing. But are you breathing deeply, optimally? Many people don’t spend much time thinking about, let alone practicing their breathing. And yet, breathing is essential to movement efficiency. It supports mindfulness, posture, and physical and mental relaxation. All of these things improve general health and fitness and also aid in movement efficiency.
So, start to think of breathing as a skill to develop. Learn how to control your breath, to relax your breath, and direct it with power to assist your movement. And make sure that you are breathing predominantly through the abdomen (i.e. diaphragm). And not just into your belly, but into the sides and back of your ribs, too.
Once you’ve learned how to breathe deeply while laying on your back, start practicing in other positions, too (e.g. during the deep squat or in the many ground positions). You can also become more mindful of your breathing while moving, too.
2) Deep Squat
The deep squat often makes it onto lists like this (e.g. top movements or exercises for ______) because it is such a fundamental movement that provides a lot of benefits – both physiological and practical. So, if you can’t rest comfortably in the deep squat position, this is a movement worth working toward. Not only does it serve as a common transition position during many ground movements, the deep squat is also a position of rest that coincidentally improves your posture, hip mobility, and even reduces lower back pain, in some cases. Deep squats do your body good.
Once you can hold a deep squat comfortably, you can adjust the width of your feet (e.g. Narrow Base Deep Squat with your feet touching or almost touching) to make it more challenging. And while you’re at it, you can also try some deep breathing while you’re holding the squat position.
Walking is the most essential human movement skill. And yet, it seems like humans are walking less than ever before. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommends walking as one of the best ways to get daily exercise. And the general recommendation is to walk 10,000 steps per day. Well, if we’re going to do that, why not make it more interesting than merely putting one foot in front of the other? You can take the path less traveled by getting out into nature or even just looking for obstacles to add complexity to your normal walking route – even if it’s just in your own neighborhood or going into work each morning.
If you start thinking of walking as a skill to be developed, a whole new world of possibilities opens up. So, instead of just logging a 30 minute walk each day, try to make each walk as interesting as possible. Step under and over things. Balance on a log or curb. Tip toe. Carry something. Or, play the childhood game and never, ever step on a crack!
Hanging is one of those movements we rarely have to do in everyday life, and that’s why it’s so important to do it regularly. It packs a ton of benefits like increased grip, arm, shoulder, and core strength, and improved shoulder and thoracic spine mobility, among others. Plus, hanging has even been shown to have rehabilitative effects for certain injuries. It’s also an invaluable element and precursor for many climbing movement skills.
With hanging, the key is to vary the types of hangs you do and progress to more difficult hanging skills when you can. So, here are 13 Ways to Hang From Your Arms For Better Climbing & Upper Body Conditioning.
Now, hear us out on this. You definitely do not want to work up to a max single effort deadlift everyday…for obvious reasons. And most people probably don’t want to do too much heavy deadlifting on a daily basis – period – even if we’re talking about sub-maximal loads. However, we pick things up off the ground all the time – bags, groceries, toys, etc. Over the course of years and decades, we’re talking thousands of “reps” of deadlifts during everyday life. It only makes sense to get into the habit of using proper technique during those mundane, daily activities.
So, whenever you need to pick something up off the ground, instead of just mindlessly bending over, train yourself to use proper position and breathing, sequence and timing, tension and relaxation every time you deadlift. It’ll do your spine and the rest of your body good.
6) Ground Movement
If movement is medicine, ground movement is like a multi-vitamin. You can’t get enough of ground movement, and that’s why we talk about it so much! Over half of our Team Instructors mentioned Ground Movement as one of their daily habits that’s made the biggest difference for them. Ground movement provides effective positioning in lying, seated, kneeling, and standing positions plus the transitions that link them. Improved ground positioning leads to improved visual field, greater range of motion all throughout the body, and more effective reaching and manipulative ability.
It’s for these reasons and many others that we’ve written and filmed a lot about ground movement. Here are some of our best resources on it:
- 4 Ground Positions to Help You Sit Comfortably, Efficiently, and with Good Posture
- A Beginner’s Guide to MovNat
- From the Ground Up – Part 1: Ground Movements
- On Sitting
- All About Ground Movement
- Getting Up, Getting Down
- Kneeling: Can you do it comfortably and efficiently (like this)?
Ready for more?
15 Natural Movements Most People Should Be Able To Do
5 Natural Movements to Reverse the Damage from Sitting
8 Daily Habits of Good Natural Movers
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The MovNat Level 1 Certification is your entry point into the world’s official Natural Movement Fitness program. It equips you with the knowledge, skills, and methods you need to transform your movement & fitness and build real world capability from the ground up. You’ll learn not only the movements in the official MovNat curriculum, but also the methods to apply those movements to your unique needs, goals, and circumstances.
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