Your Body In Motion: The 7 Primal Movement Patterns

Your Body is Designed to Move

The human body is an amazing structure. Every second, the average body produces 2 to 3 million red blood cells. That means in one day alone, you will have produced more cells than there are people in the United States. Similar effects happen within your musculoskeletal system. Muscles, bones, and joints work together to produce movement, allowing the body to generate powerful forces with relatively small amounts of muscle activation.

Just like red blood cells, the cells of your muscles, joints, and tendons are constantly evolving to meet the demands placed on your body. When your musculoskeletal system is challenged, micro tears occur and your body rebuilds tissue stronger to meet the demand. When your musculoskeletal system is not being challenged, your body will adapt to the lack-of stress over time. You’ve probably heard the phrase, “move it or loose it“. This couldn’t ring more true when it comes to the longterm health affects of a sedentary lifestyle. In this article we’re covering the 7 Primal Movement Patterns your body was designed to handle along with which exercises you can implement to train them. 

The 7 Primal Movement Patterns

The concept of primal movement patterns is often used in fitness and exercise science to describe fundamental human movements. While different experts may categorize them slightly different, a commonly accepted list includes the following seven primal movement patterns: Squatting, Hinging, Lunging, Pushing, Pulling, Twisting, and Walking.

1. Squat

The squatting movement involves bending at the hips and knees while keeping the back straight. Squats work the muscles of the lower body including the quadriceps, hamstrings and glutes

Why:

The act of squatting provides the ability to transfer considerable load by isolating the body’s largest muscles. The squatting motion is commonly used to rise from a seated position, lowering the torso, and picking up items from the floor. 

How:

To perform a squat, emphasize bending from the hips and knees versus folding at the spine. This movement can be stabilized and strengthened through exercise allowing for greater load tolerance.

2. Hinge

Hinging movements involve bending at the hips while keeping the knees relatively straight. Examples include deadlifts, and Romanian deadlifts. These movements primarily target the muscles of the posterior chain, including hamstrings, and glutes

Why:

Your ability to hinge forward while maintaining a straight back reduces the stress placed on your spinal discs. Having good posterior control minimizes the forces placed on your spine as the weight is more evenly distributed. 

How:

To perform a hinge, bend over at the waist, tighten your core by drawing in your naval, and keep your back straight. Your buttock should lower slightly behind your feet as if you are sitting on a seat. Emphasize tightening your abdomen and driving the force of your weight through your heels as you return to the starting position. 

3. Lunge

Lunging involves taking a step forward or backward and lowering the body creating a lunge position. This movement pattern works the muscles of the legs, hips, and enhances stability and balance of the core.

Why:

The movement pattern of the lunge is essential for improving lower body strengthcore strength, posture and hip flexibility. Lunges involve a significant range of motion in your hip joints. Walking lunges mimic the natural movements we perform in daily activities, such as walking and climbing stairs. 

How:

Start with both feet about shoulder width apart. Take one large step forward while bending from the knees and hips aim to maintain a straight back. Your trailing knee should get close to, or briefly touch the ground and then return to the starting upright position. 
Lunge

4. Push

Pushing movements involve extending the arms against resistance. Examples include pushing a weight away from the body during a bench press or pushing the body upward during a push-up. This movement targets the muscles of the chest, shoulderstriceps and core muscles

Why:

The push movement engages multiple muscles at once and is considered a “compound exercise”. Push-ups promote better posture, minimize back pain, and boost cardiovascular health

How:

Start on a wall or elevated surface like a countertop or table. With your hands about shoulder width apart, slowly lower yourself just above the surface and then push yourself back to start position. Emphasize keeping your back straight and bracing your core
Pushing

5. Pull

Pulling movements involve bringing a resistance toward the body. Examples include pulling weight towards the body in a rowing motion or pulling the body upward in a pull-up. This movement targets the muscles of the back, bicep, and and improves grip strength.

Why:

Pulling exercises come in a myriad of forms. One of the best ways to understand the importance is the relation to your spinal posture as the pulling movement activates nearly every muscle in your back helping to support your spine.

How:

Start with your hands and feet about shoulders distance apart. Brace your core, and pull yourself, or the weighted resistance toward your chest. Emphasize maintaining a neutral spine throughout the pulling movement.
Pulling

6. Twist (rotation)

This pattern involves rotating the torso around the spine. Exercises that incorporate twisting and rotation help develop core strength, stability and improving posture. Examples include Russian twists and cable wood chops. 

Why:

Your ability to stabilize your core helps protect your spine. By having strong core muscles, your body can better tolerate the gravitational forces that place pressure on your spinal discs and help stability your upper body. 

How:

Several rotational exercises can be performed improve stability. In this example, lunge with a twiststep forward into the lunge position, extend both arms, in-front, and slowly rotate 90 degrees to one side while activating your abdominal muscles. 

7. Walk (gait)

Walking or “gait” refers to the basic patterns of walking and running. These movements involve a coordinated effort of the quadriceps, hamstrings, calf muscles, and hip abductors. The gluteal and abdominal muscles also play a fundamental role in forward motion.

Why:

Locomotion, or the ability to move from one place to another is critical as humans. Training this movement pattern is essential to maintaining your ability to move in a safe and stable manner. 

How: 

Gait training can be performed at a variety of intensity levels. If you’re suffering from pain or a condition, exercises like seated marching, knee extension, and toe taps can help build your tolerance. If you don’t have any limitations, simple walking or jogging can help improve balance and coordination.
 
Gait

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The Importance of Primal Movement Patterns

The seven primal movement patterns compose the fundamental notes that harmonize strength, agility, and overall well-being. From the grounding squats that build a robust lower body foundation to the fluid twists that engage the core, these movements mirror the essence of human functionality. By integrating the primal patterns into an exercise routine, individuals embark on a journey that trancends mere workouts. 

This holistic approach not only sculpts a balanced physique but also fortifies the body against injury and cultivates a seamless coordination of muscles and joints. The beauty lies in not just the physical prowess these patterns unlock but in their ability to bring everyday movements to life. By embracing the primal symphony, one not only builds strength but dances with the rhythm of human potential.

Conclusion

Incorporating exercises that cover these primal movements into your fitness routine can help ensure a well-rounded and functional approach to strength and conditioning. Keep in mind that individual conditions, body types, and goals will all be unique to each person. In some cases, modifications of these movements may be required early on to avoid pain and slowly build up your capacity. 

We know that starting a new exercise routine can be a mixed bag of emotions. From finding time in your busy schedule, to knowing which exercises to tackle first, our team can help you every step of the way. Our treatment methods prioritize a patient-centered approach putting you in the drivers seat of your health. Contact us to get started!

In Good Health,

– The Salinas Team

References:

[1] Dean L. Blood Groups and Red Cell Antigens [Internet]. Bethesda (MD): National Center for Biotechnology Information (US); 2005. Chapter 1, Blood and the cells it contains. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK2263/ [last accessed 12/27/2023]

[2] https://www.hep2go.com/ [last accessed 12/27/2023]

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