Training Like a Human: What Nature Teaches Us

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Want to see and experience truth? Observe nature. Go out in nature and be in it, listen to it, feel it. Reconnect with what it means to be human.

Nature was here way before we were. We were born out of it and into it, through gestation to birth. Sadly, modern day has shifted us and directed us away from the realities of nature. From the artificial light we surround ourselves with to the plastic and rubber we put between our feet and the earth. Simple concepts like breathing and existing in nature are hard to come pass when you live in a concrete jungle or any man-made civilization for that matter. Each day we become disconnected from our primal roots of what it means to be human. As a result we are growing sicker, weaker, and less competent day by day.

Over tens of thousands of years, the homo-sapien has evolved and acquired the necessary characteristic traits to survive and prevail in the world. We grew and adapted ourselves according to the demands of survival. Fast-forward to today, survival is a joke. We have an abundance of food to our access, most of us do not have to worry about shelter, or how we will survive each day. Our bodies have become complacent, and so have our hearts, minds, and intentions. Essentially- I think a lot of our biological evolutionary traits are on the verge of dissipation. From understanding walking, to silencing the mind, to relaxing the body or engaging the body with purposeful deliberation- we are moving in the opposite direction that time evolved for us to move in. Who am I to make such a claim? I’m nobody special, I’m a guy that works with bodies everyday, observing their defaults, compensations, and unhealthy habits. So do you have to agree with me? Nope- but down the line when inhibition and dysfunction knock on your door, you’ll wonder how it happened, and the answer I believe is that you stoped training yourself like a human and exposing yourself to nature.

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Having said all of this, have no fear. You can help yourself as easily as you can brush your own teeth, as long as you can discipline yourself to understand the value of reconnecting with nature and your primacy. You can still reconnect with something larger than yourself, (bigger than your paycheck, or your house, or your personality)- all by surrendering to the forces of nature that are already in and around you. By observing your and world around you, you can take steps towards becoming a better functioning human. Fuck exercise and performance and money- I’m talking straight up living more like a human. Living, moving, and being more inline with how human evolution was made to be. Nature is like the fountain of youth- the more we bask in it the more it rejuvenates our being. It has several things to teach us, and when starting out I particularly like to start clients off with these few ideas and implementations.

1- Strength and intrinsic core matters. Developing intrinsic foot strength is #1 whenever I meet somebody. You have mechanoreceptors in your feet, and these messengers tell your foot to move, contract, shift, whatever. But when you wear shoes all the time these mechanoreceptors die. Nature intended to teach us how to walk on the ground- hence we were able to figure it out and become the only animal to walk on its hind legs. Being the only species to develop verticality (bipedalism), it is important to reconnect with the human evolution of gait that took tens of thousands of years to develop. Shoes ruin gait, and what was originally invented to protect us against sharp objects and extreme temperatures has now become a style we attach ourselves to. Our feet were not intended to be bound up and dressed for appearances. Our feet are our windows to our lower body muscle-chains and lower spine health. We are born to walk in the grass, dirt, on rocks, and several other natural surfaces. Different types of surfaces will elicit different responses in the foot, ankle, knee, hip, all the way to the spine and upper body. There are more than 13,000 nerve endings in one square inch on your foot (the size of a quarter). Thats more concentration of nerve endings than anywhere else in your body. Our feet were meant to regularly touch the ground, and once you start doing it you’ll reap the benefits.
WHAT TO DO: Find a park, soccer field, anywhere that has soil and grass and walk in it. Preferebly during the daylight to soak up some additional Vitamin-D, but otherwise take off your shoes and socks and walk, stroll, skip if you have it in you. Ground yourself and slow down, take slow steps, feel each articulation of your foot as it walks. Take note of how you feel after walking on the ground each day. 

2- Linear motion isn’t reality. Multi-plannar movement works our joints in all the ways they evolved to move us. Nature reminds us that it is necessary to be able to move in all directions, both slowly and quickly. Hinge, lunge, walk, run, spiral, explode, flex, extend, throw, squat, push, pull, roll, land- do it all. Move every one of your joints each day, and use your core to create the desired motion. Understand the mental model of your body and it functions, stop guessing and assuming you know more than you do. Move at different angles and get uncomfortable in outdoor settings, take note of how much daily activity lives in a rotational and spiral pattern- this will keep your nervous system ready for the curveballs life throws at you.
WHAT TO DO: Get in touch with your inner child and get back to playing. Play low to the grounud, get up and get down. Move sideways and frontways, backways and all ways. The ground can be more forgiving than man-made flooring, so experiment outdoors and feel how it is to move like a kid or a human. Move on the floor, jump, throw, laugh, and explore doing things in nature that you may not normally be exposed to. The gym and exercise is to a degree complete bullshit. Its all made up nonsense. Exercise is made up because we don’t understand and have forgotten how to move. Stop conforming to fluorescent lit rooms and bootcamp classes that don’t educate you and force you to constantly process what it means to articulate joint control or muscle recruitment. You were not made to do such simple mindless training, you were made to understand complexity in movement and function. If you’re older or nursing an injury, be mindful with what you do and stay in the reality of your abilities, but let yourself go outside more to train. Need ideas? Send me an email and I’ll help you figure out how to do this!

3- We forget how to move, physically, but also psychologically. Nothing sits still for long and survives. When your mind stiffens up, and mental flexibility locks up, your body follows suit- so you slow down, become decrepit, and get eaten. Did the human condition evolve to sit and stare at screens, or stand in complacency all day without movement? NO! The answer is no- in nature if you sit still long enough you die. If you don’t challenge your mental processing by adapting to new understandings and perspectives, that becomes a weakness and you get eaten. You need to be processing more, and not just cerebral processing or ‘keeping busy’ thoughts. I’m talking about movement at a deep level. You’ve got to first- move more often, whether thats walking more regularly during the day or adjusting your posture at your desk. And second- you have to move in a way that is conducive to your biomechanics. What I mean is, pay attention to how you stand in line, how you walk places, how you hold yourself at social settings, your movement has a lot more to do with your thoughts than you think. Are you practicing self-care and routines that nourish you and stretch you? Or are you doing the same shit you were doing 5 years ago? The human architecture evolved to where it is because movement improves circulation, tissue hydration, kinesthetics, but if all you do is sit 5-10 hours a day and keep your shoes on and eat shitty food and don’t do physical work on yourself- the body’s natural desire of improving its’ neural drive to function more optimally diminishes.
WHAT TO DO: Stop being lazy and robotic with yourself, your training, the way you are. That might sound harsh, or you may think you’re not lazy. But I’m being a straight shooter- you’re lazy and you know it. “But I workout X amount of times per week.” – Nope, don’t care, your working out probably sucks and is a compensation for something else in your life you’re ignoring and thus not self-fulfilling. I’m not saying stop working out, but I am encouraging you to move with intention in your life and stop settling for mediocrity. Do shit that makes sense for you to do, not just to do something. Sometimes relaxation causes movement within the parasympathetic system that cannot be elicited from conventional exercise. So that represents movement on a deep subtler level. Cook more- if all you do is eat out or do the same meal all the time- how are you moving and exploring your thought process on how foods taste and how they effect your body? Again- movement on a more subconscious level is still movement. Do you have some pain? Why don’t you sit with it or apply some SMFR and understand what it means to manage your body? This is movement too! Open your heart and let somebody in. Putting your defenses down helps create movement from a psychological perspective and thus gives you more cognitive flexibility. Either way, movement needs to evolve past ‘exercise’ and ‘bootcamp’ and into a deeper understanding of the self. Understanding your body map, your architecture, and the state in which your nervous system is in. Don’t pretend like you know more than you do, get some help and work with a therapist like myself who understands what they’re talking about in regards to human movement foundations and improving upon them. 

Okay- now you know, so go do it, connect with nature. Take off your shoes, move on the floor or on your feet in several directions, move regularly and in new ways. Try not to a robot or check-out of your body- it is your temple. It is your vessel between now and death. Nature is like free therapy for your body and mind. See how taking these steps and applying them will help improve your biomechanics and human capabilities.

 

Stop training like a machine, and train like a human.

-Rob

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