If you’ve been hearing about “primal” “ancestral” or “animal” movement lately and thinking it’s just the latest trend … know that this type of movement has actually been “trending” for thousands of years.
Training like an animal (or, to be more correct, our early human selves!) has an unbelievable amount of benefits for your body AND performance. As we’re rediscovering these benefits, this style has been popping up more and more lately, and has definitely made it’s way into our own training.
We’ve got the primal down-low below.
Primal Movement: What It Is And Why We Need It
The easiest way to conceptualize primal/animal movement is to imagine an infant, or to think back on your earliest years as a kid.
The ground was your domain.
From the moment you learned to roll over and start crawling, you began exploring everything on all fours.
As you got a little older, you began to experiment with new movements like squatting, scooting, etc … these style of movements are considered the base of primal movement, since they were our earliest movement types, and reflected the flexibility and elasticity of our early bodies.
If you’ve closely watched kids playing, you’ll notice that they move quickly and with ease, and with a fluidity we often envy. This ease of movement often lasts until they start school and desk life, where they are confined to a sitting position for several hours per day.
When primal movement stops, stiffness and rigidity slowly starts.
One of the key goals with primal movement is to return our bodies to the graceful, flexible state we experienced as children.
Primal Movement: Benefits Of The Crawl
One of the key movements primal movement is centered around is the crawl.
No, this doesn’t mean that you have to start crawling around the house or gym (although more power to you if you do!) to get in a primal session. It simply means that many primal flows get you closer to the ground on all fours, which massively engages your core and activates all types of muscles, ligaments, and tendons that haven’t been used in years.
If you think about it, crawling is very similar to other types of movement, which makes sense considering it is one of the “original” movements.
When you crawl, you lift one hand/arm ahead of you, followed by the opposite leg/foot. When you walk or run, this same movement pattern is repeated, only while upright.
This is why a core concept around primal movement is, if you’re having posture or alignment and pain issues while running or doing lifts, you should return to movements that enhance mobility … which, ironically enough, mirror primal movements.
Consider that if you’re having issues with form, posture, and even your knees and ankles, that the “cure” for this isn’t necessarily doing more of the same lifts. It may actually be introducing primal movement in order to strengthen your foundation and give your body the mobility it needs to move properly.
Primal Training Can Enhance Performance And Reduce Risk Of Injury
You probably gathered that this style of training can seriously benefit your performance as a whole. This is because enhanced mobility, flexibility, and strength of the smaller stabilizer muscles that are activated during primal flows allow you to lift with proper form … which then allows for maximum power output!
Not to mention, enhanced mobility also helps prevent injuries from the over-extension of joints and muscles. Going back to the old “bend like bamboo” analogy, it’s easy to recognize that being stiff like a board is not advantageous in any area of life (especially fitness), and can result in serious injury.
Integrating Primal Movements Into Your Routine
If you’re a complete newbie to primal or animal flows, don’t worry. It’s totally normal to feel awkward performing these movements at first, as it’s been a long time since your body has moved like this.
Below are two videos – the first shows a variety of animal flow movements you can try. The key here is within the name: FLOW. Once you get a feel for the moves, you can begin to integrate them into your sessions, like in the second video: