I believe I've experienced some pretty substantial benefits from barefoot running/minimal shoes; improved posture, seemingly cured "flat feet", and no more discomfort in hip joints.
I think that natural movement has enormous therapeutic potential. Have any of you heard/read about any work or research being done on this? What about your own experience?
I believe that any movement that allows the body freedom to move as it was designed to do is beneficial for overall health. Although not related to movement I do have a personal experience to share: I started sleeping on the floor, a few weeks ago, just as an n=1 experiment to see what would happen. I lay on a couple blankets for padding on a carpeted floor, no pillow. I kind of expected to wake up stiff and sore but that never happened. In fact I think it may even be improving my posture somewhat and I sleep very soundly and wake up before my alarm clock fully rested. Maybe my body is adapting to having to support my weight through the night as it evolved to do, instead of relying on a mattress for support. Throughout the day I have noticed I do not get as tired from standing and walking seems somehow more fluid now. perhaps we are better adapted to sleeping on hard surfaces than on a cushy bed.
The other thing I have been experimenting with is what is referred to as the 3rd world style of squat, as opposed to squatting on one's toes. This has helped to loosen up my hips an dI am finding it more comfy to squat now instead of sitting in a chair. Maybe I'll start swinging from tree branches soon! ;)
Hi Nico. Good for you. You are on the right track in thinking about natural movement. This whole so-called paleo movement is really based upon the scientifically-sound premise that by supplying your 'late-paleolithic' mind/body with the most 'genetically-congruent' environment, you will (very likely) thrive and express optimal health.
If one is to live a so-called paleo lifestlye then there is NO WAY you can limit it to a paleo-type/primal-type diet alone. One must try to eat as paleo, move as paleo and 'think/emote' as paleo as possible.
The cross-fit movement was certainly a step in the right direction taking people off their treadmills and ipods and creating a diverse clan-based fitness approach. But as good as it is not quite there, in my opinion. Folks doing things such as Erwin LeCorre have a better handle on paleo/primal/natural movement. If one could combine the philosophy and practices of of LeCorre with a diversified array of 'truly-functional' movements/activities (pragmatic activities such as gardening, daily life activities, walking/ambulating, etc.), then you would very likely have an optimal result in my opinion.
Suggestion: Try not to think of natural movement or even a paleo diet as being "therapeutic". Therapy implies that you are trying to "treat" some particular condition or issue. The only thing you are really "treating" when you begin to engage a paleo-type lifestyle is the "lack" of a paleo type lifestyle! If you don't get what i am saying then check my website and watch the video title "what is wellness", maybe that will explain it better. Cheers.
I run with vibrams and go barefoot as much as possible. Since the switch, my calf muscles got bigger, but I've noticed no benefit (2 years). However, I try to bend, sit on the floor, squat, and do other natural movements (besides working on posture) and during the 6 months I been doing this, I have noticed significant decrease in back pain and the ability to stand much longer without getting uncomfortable.
Barefoot walking/running, climbing (trees, at rock gyms, outdoors), swimming, fighting (preferably controlled situations such as a martial arts or boxing gym), are all extremely FUN, liberating, invigorating, and "natural".
Just as eating real food (fruits, veg, meat, etc.) satisfies the body's nutritional needs (i.e. fuel), a broad spectrum of movement satisfies our body's need for exercise (i.e. tuning and aligning).
In terms of Pareto's principle (the 80/20) rule, something like Crossfit offers the most bang for the buck. With a somewhat limited number of movements, (squats, Olympic lifts, push-ups/pull-ups, etc.) you can get most of the physical exercise that you need. However, the remaining "long tail" of movement has a cumulative effect that can really add up.
For example, going out and playing a game of tag, climbing a tree, getting into a friendly tussle, hopping from rock to rock down a river, etc. offers millions of subtle variations, modifications, adjustments, and adaptations. These types of activities cannot be replicated in a gym setting and must take place outside in a natural environment.
It is like comparing watching something on an HD TV vs seeing it with your own eyes. Direct contact with the natural world will always offer than intangible "something more" that we all aspire to.
Primal Gym in Toronto 5 Answers