By David Dickinson
In 2004, I was deployed on operations with the British Army to southern Iraq. One day, my platoon found ourselves involved in a six-day gun battle with local insurgents. During the night, we suffered a direct, high-explosive strike which wounded three of us, including myself. My friends were peppered head to toe with shrapnel. I had a deep penetration wound to my right leg which had pierced my hamstring, rendering me unable to walk.
The location we were holding was a crucial break-in point for the enemy, who was attempting to overrun our position. It was absolutely imperative that we hold our position- no matter what. The three of us patched each other’s wounds as best we could and made a conscious decision not to administer pain relief as the effects would have prevented us from doing what we must to hold the position.
Seven agonizing, painful hours later, dawn broke and we were eventually relieved. I was alive and whole (mostly), but my leg and lower back had seized so completely that I had to be carried to the aid station for further treatment. My tour of duty ended, I was eventually flown home where my road to recovery would take 13 years, a trans-Atlantic holiday, and 1 book.
After returning home, even though I was in the prime of my life, I had major trouble with walking for nearly 2 years. I couldn’t run properly for about 4 years without suffering from some form of injury. This was caused by the shrapnel being lodged in my leg where it still rests to this day. The effects of the blast endured in Iraq left me with muscle imbalances that greatly impacted my overall mobility and ability to perform functional, practical tasks – I couldn’t do something as simple as stand up without being in pain. This was a huge frustration for me. Before my injury in Iraq, I had always been active and enjoyed a large range of outdoor activities. After Iraq, I felt like I was growing old before my time, watching my physicality slip away too soon.
I muddled along for years, performing at what felt like a sub-optimal level, despite being qualified as an Army physical training instructor. Even though I had come a long way since that fateful night, when I laid there in the middle of a gunfight with a shredded hamstring full of shrapnel pinned down by enemy fire, there were still aspects of movement and mobility that I struggled with. I just couldn’t seem to be able to achieve that upper tier of physical performance I knew I was capable of- had been capable of before Iraq, despite consultations with numerous experts and sports therapists. I had exhausted all my options. I was losing hope and I was preparing myself to accept the fact that I would spend the rest of my life in various states of pain and poor mobility.
And then, I stumbled across MovNat.
On holiday in Canada, I came across a book called Natural Born Heroes by Christopher McDougall. If you haven’t read it yet, this book takes place largely during a different war when the Nazi’s elite fighting force invaded and attempted to hold the island of Crete. As elite and well-trained as they were, the Nazi paratroopers were no match for the scrappy, stealthy Cretan shepherds who helped organize the resistance. Amazed at how anyone could run such lengthy distances over rough terrain, on a daily basis no less, McDougall interviewed and trained with Erwan Le Corre, the founder of MovNat, to learn and possibly recreate the superhuman feats of Cretan endurance.
The whole MovNat philosophy had captivated me from the start. It was as if there was finally a physical training system that looked at real-life education for practical development, that literally builds you from the ground up. As I started my MovNat training, I was quite alarmed at how poor my flexibility, range of mobility and overall strength had become. I could carry heavy equipment for long distances but found that moving rapidly in and out of fire positions across dynamically changing terrain, painful and difficult. I swallowed my pride and literally rebuilt my whole approach to physical training. Using the MovNat Principles in my training, I have gone from not being able to stand without using my hands to support me, to being able to complete some quite dynamic movements and most recently, completing the first level of the certification process.
For me, the most critical aspect is that I am now more physically and mentally capable than I have ever been in my life! I enjoy pain-free movement both at work and at home and feel empowered to help others enjoy a movement approach to physical development that helps to combine the many facets of daily life. I found it very helpful to attend a workshop as this really highlighted what I need to work on, but was also a highly enjoyable learning experience where you get to meet people from all different walks of life. To me, this captures some of the essence of Natural Movement in that it is for everyone, and is a universal aspect of our daily lives wherever you go.
MovNat is a system of physical training and education, but it also so much more. In the 21st century, our world is the most advanced it has ever seen, with great breakthroughs in medical science, and even further discoveries into the vastness of space. However, the other side of that is that we have become isolated, complacent and reliant on gadgets, vehicles and the labour of others to complete tasks that we should be doing ourselves. This has led to less physical capacity for even everyday routines such as walking your children to school in the morning, walking to the shops with your family, and carrying the shopping home, spending time as a family or a couple in the garden during the summer either playing or gardening. Sadly, our lack of movement and physical capacity can negatively impact our relationships with family, loved ones and even the Earth.
Therefore, I believe MovNat is truly a force for good for future generations because it is a system that is practical and you can relate every skill to something you might be expected to do in daily life. With this approach, we are encouraging society to take responsibility for their actions and to be more resourceful and mindful of our impact on this beautiful world we all share. A further byproduct of this lifestyle is communities and generations across the world who can employ the best the 21st century has to offer, but who are also physically and mentally robust and resilient enough to deal with life’s uncertainties. With widespread implementation of MovNat principles, I could foresee a reduction in carbon emissions, lower cases of obesity related illnesses, reduced strain on welfare services, etc.- the list could go on.
In closing, I’ll say that MovNat has truly transformed my life. This system provides the missing link in the DNA of fitness. If you are thinking about going to a workshop- don’t hesitate! It will open your eyes no matter what your background is.
David Dickinson is a hero and a newly-minted L1 MovNat Certified Trainer. The MovNat Team welcomes David to our community and all of those living our ethos “Be Strong to be Useful.”
Want Some Help With Natural Movement® Fitness?
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.