Natural Movement in an unatural environment

walkFor most of humanity’s existence on this planet, we have been moving all day, every day. We had to move to survive. We were mostly nomadic, changing our living location with the seasons in order to follow our food sources. Our movement was natural and our bodies have evolved to require this natural movement in order to be in its best state of well-being. Modern humans, the ones that we now look like, have been around for about 200,000 years. We have been moving around this planet naturally since that time. It was not until the industrialization of our more modern societies in the 1800’s that humans started to move less naturally. Motorized cars, tractors, trains, cement, refrigeration, bicycles, telephones, movies, electricity and dishwashers are just a short list of proof at how quickly our world changed. With the rapidly changing world, we rapidly changed how we were moving around in it.

Now fast forward to today’s world and examine how little we have to move in order to survive. We sit in a car,  sit or stand at work, sit to eat dinner, sit to watch television or at our computer, then we lie in a bed for 8 hours a night (if we are lucky). Ok, I admit, this a rather simple way of looking at our day but it gets the point across. This enormous reduction in movement is directly related to our state of well-being. We should feel strong in our bodies. We should feel strong in our pregnant bodies. Sadly, that is no longer the case for most of us. We spend most of our days sitting and then we throw in some movement for 30 or 60 minutes on most days and figure that with that regular exercise, we should feel good right?!

baby-walkKaty Bowman, a biomechanist who has spent her career studying the way we were meant to move asks us to shift our perspective and look at movement as “food” for our cells. If you do that, then you can begin to understand why are cells are starving. They only get fed once a day – maybe. By looking at how much time we spend sitting or lying down every day, we can quickly see that our cells are starving the majority of the time. Starving cells create pain. Headaches, pelvic pain, back pain, knee pain, hip pain, neck pain, shoulder pain and pubic bone pain are just a few indicators that something is not right. By now you are probably wondering what you can do. How can you feed your cells more often, be strong and pain-free. Here are some suggestions for you. You can also visit Katy Bowman’s blog and youtube channel to get some excellent ideas. She knows what she’s talking about. SWITCH THINGS UP:

  1. Walk on grass or gravel instead of the smooth pavement or concrete. It forces your beautiful feet to have to work all of their muscles and joints to stabilize you and works out your brain too.
  2. Walk different distances every day, some short walks and some much longer ones. Keep your body guessing! As a bonus, find some hills, big and small to walk on every once in a while.
  3. Take short movement breaks often in your day. Check out Katy’s youtube channel and blog for great movement snack ideas.
  4. Add movement to your regular routine. Squat when you would have otherwise bent over. Why not keep a rolled up towel on the floor by the sink and stretch your calves while you wash the dishes. If you want to get really adventurous, stretch your shins too. Stretch when you are in line-up at the bank or the store.
  5. Sit on the floor instead of the couch. Sit on an exercise ball.
  6. If you are at the park, hang off the monkey bars, climb things, play!

Movement does not cost you anything. No fancy equipment or gear. Just your desire to be strong and feel good, and some creativity to fit it into your day. Our bodies need to be able to move freely to birth as efficiently as possible. So here’s to feeling strong in our bodies and may we feel strong in our births!



Josée Nolet is a registered midwife with Generations Midwifery Care.  Learn more about her here.