The phase ‘natural movement’ is used in so many ways but what does it actually mean? How can any movement not be natural if we are natural human beings?
It’s very simple. Natural means in accordance with nature. It’s not a subjective term. To use a different example, a fruit that grows on a tree without artificial interference is a natural food. A GMO crop, on the other hand, is not. A fish caught in the ocean and cooked over a fire is a natural food. A gummy fish-shaped candy is certainly not. When you tamper too much with nature, you start to get problems. So how does this apply to movement...
Movement is powered by one force at the top of the hierarchy which we are all subject to: gravity. Natural movement means the muscles support your body weight under the force of gravity, but the muscles don’t power your movement. Your muscles aren’t there to do the job of gravity, and any voluntary attempt to override what gravity (nature) is already doing very well is inefficient at best, and at worst has harmful consequences.
A simple example of this is the notion that runnng requires ‘pushing off’ the ground to propel yourself forward. It doesn’t. If you move naturally, so to speak, you will fall forward automatically, thanks to gravity. All you have to do is maintain an optimal falling angle and body position and pull your foot from the ground with the proper timing and speed. The better you do this, the less muscle effort you need, and the less stress is placed on the body.
Of course, you need the right kind of strength to be able to maintain the ideal falling angle and to be able to pull each foot from the ground in rapid succession and maintain it without breaking down. All strength training is not created equal. While there are some similarities, strength training for runners is different than for basketball players, or for weightlifters, or for dancers.
So natural movement is not a collection of movements. It’s HOW you move. Just like a GMO apple is still an apple, a heel-striking runner with poor posture is still running... it’s still movement, it’s just that there is unnecessary interference and it’s not ideal. An apple is a natural food but if it’s genetically modified in a way that opposes nature, It will cause problems. And if you run (or move) in a way that opposes nature, it will cause problems (hence the large percentage of injured runners, rise in musculoskeletal issues, and prevalence of chronic injuries/pains among the general population).
Nature is not some external phenomena, the way we tend to treat it. We are nature. When we live out of harmony with nature, it means we are out of harmony within ourselves. The more we understand how to eat, sit, move, live in accordance with nature, the less problems we will create for ourselves.
Move naturally. Live better.