Experts Explain the 2023 Trend of “Primal Movement” and Share Exercises to Try

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Primal movement will be a trend in 2023, according to Pinterest, and experts say they’ve already seen it catching on. Primal movement promotes reconnecting with the way our bodies were designed to move. This can help undo some of the damage from tech neck and bad posture. Consider this trend a type of physical manifestation of mindfulness.

Kira Jones Matousek, founder of Cacti Wellness, says she’s noticed a “societal shift towards doing things that actually feel good” and listening to our inner needs. From jobs and social plans to health and fitness, Jones Matousek sees this manifesting in various ways, one of them being primal movement, since it’s “a great example of following instincts.”

This shift toward doing things that feel good comes in the wake of the increased awareness and emphasis on health that came out of COVID, says Liz Lindenmeier, founder of Lit&Lean. The sobering realization that we have only one body to carry us through life lends itself to wanting to care for it and use it in the ways it was designed to be used as opposed to what the body is expected to do now. “Just from the use of technology alone more people have neck and back issues. Younger people are having more issues and getting hip replacements, knee surgeries, etc.,” says Lindenmeier. “Focusing on primal movement can help extend the longevity of our bodies.”

The more sedentary life that humans have shifted towards is unnatural for the human form. Primal movement can help “recalibrate our bodies and lives to point zero,” says Alo Moves Instructor Christa Janine. She notes that we need this “after sitting at desks all day or behind a steering wheel stuck in traffic.” What’s especially great about this trend is that it doesn’t exclude anyone. Primal movement is “applicable and accessible to everyone,” points out Jones Matousek. Our bodies were made to do these movements, so let’s get them back there.

What is primal movement?

“Primal movement allows our bodies to follow our instincts and move the way they were built to,” says Jones Matousek. These natural movements date back centuries. Janine says the practice “focuses on movement patterns that would have been necessary for our ancestors to survive in their primitive state.”

Jones Matousek says she uses the term functional movement interchangeably with primal movement. “It’s all about moving in a way that helps us strengthen our core and bodies to better perform everyday movements like sitting, walking, pushing, pulling, twisting, etc.” Lindenmeier notes that primal movements can include bending over, twisting or even holding a child. When put into the context of fitness, exercises can involve versions of squats, lunges, planks, etc. These exercises help more readily enable comfortable movement daily.

The benefits of primal movement

Primal movement benefits occur throughout the body. Jones Matousek says benefits can include “decreased pain and discomfort, increased core strength and ultimately better quality and longevity of life.” Janine also cites that primal movement promotes increased mobility, flexibility, endurance and stability. “It also teaches your body to work together cohesively,” notes Janine. Lindenmeier explains that the muscles trained during these exercises “will cross over to everyday movements.”

Primal movement exercises to try

One of Jones Matousek’s favorite primal movement mobility stretches is The World’s Greatest Stretch. “Start in a low, wide runner’s lunge with your left leg straight behind you. Your right foot should be on the outside of your right hand. Now, lift your right hand up towards the sky to open your chest towards your right knee,” explains Jones Matousek. “Repeat on the other side, and take it slow, really finding length in your side body and extension through your arms and legs.”

Janine recommends beginning on all fours and lifting the opposite leg and hand while hovering the knee above the ground. She also suggests working on 90/90 hip mobility, rotating through the center on each side. Shifting from child’s pose to downward dog is another great move says Janine. Even simpler, Lindenmeier suggests the cat-cow stretch and twists while sitting in a chair.

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