Our hunter-gatherer ancestors were strong, flexible, powerful movers. They moved everything, everywhere, everyday using their bare hands, utilizing the most basic of tools. They could climb, jump, squat, lift, throw, crawl and run like the olympic athletes of today, simply through how they had to live their lives in order to survive.

    I wonder how many of them ever got low back pain…?

As humans, we are designed to move in three dimensions. Everything we do, every movement we put our body through, involves all three dimensions; sagittal, frontal and transverse planes. That is, moving forwards and backwards, from side to side and rotating. Every muscle and joint used within any natural movement will be exposed to and required to go through these 3 planes of movement.

Unfortunately, a significant part of our population within the western world spend most of the day sitting, fulfilling the criteria of a very sedentary lifestyle. Many peoples days look a bit like this…

We wake up and get ready to make our way into work.
We sit down to either drive or take public transport to get to work.
We then get to work, say our good mornings, and proceed to sit down.
We continue to sit down for the majority of the working day, occasionally getting up to go to lunch, use the bathroom, or run a few errands.
It’s time to go home. We then drive or take public transport (again if you can get a seat), sat down.
We finally get home after a long day at work, take the load off, and sit down to eat or watch TV.
Then we go bed. 
We get up in the morning and the whole cycle starts again.

Put yourself in your bodies position - an odd thought considering we are our bodies - and try to appreciate how foreign this must be to it. Considering we are a biological mechanism designed to traverse the land, that spent over 2 million years fine tuning and evolving through being upright and moving, it’s got to be a shock to the system doing very little of what we are designed to do - move.

Let’s discuss what this all has to do with pain. Our friends at the NOI Group, Hodges, Melzack, and many others, have shown us that the brain is neuroplastic. It changes all the time, not necessarily for good or bad, it just changes. The brain's neuronal wiring changes in response to the stimulation it receives, and it needs to be kept in the loop in order to be kept happy. A happy brain = less chance of pain. The brain is the governor of the nervous system, who likes varied movement, and likes to be kept informed. Varied movement keeps all the various receptors in our body busy doing their job providing biofeedback, in turn stimulating the associated neurons within the sensory and motor aspects of the brain, satisfying the brains demand for information. When you stop informing it with what is going on within the body, it becomes unhappy, and feels threatened.

The concept of Primal Movement is founded on 6 basic movements of the human body: squatting, lunging, bending, pulling, pushing, and rotating. These movements are often combined together to produce a more complicated composite movement pattern, upright on our feet, which is natural for us as 3 dimensional beings. Throwing a spear, stalking prey, climbing, running, carrying, these all require a combination of these different movement patterns under the influence of the 3 planes of motion discussed earlier. These composite movement patterns provide a significant amount of movement variation, therefore increased biofeedback from the receptors in our musculoskeletal system, which in turn trigger the neurons linked to the movement pattern and body part(s) involved within the brain. The aim of this is to boost the function of and maintain a content brain, leading to less chance of pain and greater movement potential.

But what about athletes, cross fitters, gym goers, runners, who move, but still have chronic joint pain or muscle pain? Obviously this is a multifactoral issue, which movement is an important part of, yet not the sole answer. However, even relatively composite movement patterns that require the use of many joints at once, such as dead lifting, squatting, cleans, running etc, can become unvaried and monotonous as far as the brain is concerned. It often can be a case of putting their bodies through the same movement patterns repeatedly over a significant period of time, repeatedly stressing the same areas of the body, with limited movement variation, that reduces neuronal stimulation from the area of the body being used. Runners are often guilty of not doing enough conditioning outside of running. Gym goers often go and do the same exercises and change them irregularly. Olympic weightlifting repeatedly follows exactly the same movement strategy over and over again. All this points to the necessity for varied movement patterns that satisfy our central nervous system.

     So whats the moral of the story?

The moral of the story is that we need to move. Varied, multidirectional, instinctive, upright, non-contrived movement patterns are what our nervous system is thirsty for. With many people fulfilling the criteria of a significantly sedentary based lifestyle, their nervous systems are even thirstier for these kinds of movement. For the aches and pains experienced by those who train or run, varied, multidirectional, instinctive, non-contrived movement patterns can provide a big step in helping to resolve those issues.