All of the movements you do throughout the day, and the millions of movements you could possibly do, all stem from just seven primary movement patterns.
We begin to develop these movement patterns shortly after we’re born, and we continue to depend on them for the duration of our lives. They’re responsible for things as simple as lifting our heads and as complex as Olympic figure skating.
Since these are the building blocks for every move we make, getting them right is key. You may assume they’re too simple to mess up – after all, toddlers can do them – but in reality, a lot of us have dysfunctional movement patterns that we’re unaware of. Because the resulting damage tends to snowball gradually over time, out-of-whack movement patterns can fly under the radar for years (or decades!).
Consider what it’s like to drive a car that’s out of alignment. Things usually aren’t so bad when you drive short distances at low speeds. But when you hit the highway, you might hear new noises and feel shakes where you shouldn’t. If you ignore the small things long enough, a chain reaction of dangerous and expensive problems can start to develop.
Our bodies operate in much the same way. Things might feel okay—or maybe you even learn to take a little pain for granted—until one day you notice you can’t move like you need to. You have stiffness and pain in new places all the time, and even basic movements may feel increasingly tough.
It’s common to view these issues as an inevitable byproduct of getting older, but that’s not the case. Proper movement pattern training can alleviate them immensely or help you avoid the pain and stiffness from developing in the first place. Getting old doesn’t need to be linked to getting pain.
That’s why we focus on training these movement patterns versus training individual muscles.
If you’re preparing for a bodybuilding competition, a bicep curl might make sense. But if you’re preparing for a long life filled with everyday movements and activity, training movement patterns is the only way to pain-free success.
So, what are these seven movement patterns?
PRIMAL MOVEMENT PATTERN #1: PUSH
This is the first movement pattern we attempt as babies. When a baby lifts her head up for the first time, she’s developing the shoulder and torso muscles she needs to roll, crawl, and eventually walk upright.
PRIMAL MOVEMENT PATTERN #2: TWIST
The shoulder and torso strength you gain from the push leads to the ever important twist. When a baby begins to twist her torso, she’s developing her thoracic spine’s (upper back) ability to rotate, which should happen with every step we take.
PRIMAL MOVEMENT PATTERN #3: PULL
Now that our baby can push and twist, she’s rolling around freely, and ready to take on the next developmental step: pulling. As a baby begins to pull herself up, she’s developing the back muscles she’ll need for more dynamic movements like climbing.
PRIMAL MOVEMENT PATTERN #4: GAIT
After she’s up on her feet, our baby uses the movements she’s gained so far to shift her weight and attempt to propel herself forward. This leads to—you guessed it—walking. A pretty important development.
PRIMAL MOVEMENT PATTERN #5: HINGE
Otherwise known as bending over, this is when our baby’s body learns to pivot using the muscles of her hips and thighs, and the stabilizers of her spine. Hinging is a complex pattern that enables lifting, carrying, and most importantly, falling safely from her newfound standing height.
PRIMAL MOVEMENT PATTERN #6: SQUAT
Coordinating hip hinging and knee bending, a squat further utilizes the muscles of the thighs and hips, in addition to stabilizers of her torso. From a squat position, a baby can rest, explore, and use it as a platform for jumping and lifting.
PRIMAL MOVEMENT PATTERN #7: LUNGE
The lunge brings it all together, honing skills in coordination, balance, and strength. It exercises the stabilizers of every major joint and emphasizes dynamic leg strength. This is the final movement pattern preceding most sports skills.
Ultimately we exist to give you the support you need to practice these seven movement patterns simply, safely, and with proper form. We believe that movement is an inherent gift that shouldn’t be painful, difficult, or exclusive. With consistent practice, these seven patterns can keep your body tuned up, out of pain, and leave you feeling more confident than ever, regardless of where you’re starting from.