A recent article published by MovNat covered some very interesting findings in a study where so called ‘occupational athletes’ were put to the test. The goal of the study was to compare fitness- and movement-related adaptations between career firefighters by testing two different training strategies. The first strategy was to use a high-intensity exercise program to improve physical fitness. The second strategy was to enhance both physical fitness and movement quality at the same time.
Movement-guided training vs. conventional fitness
Fifty-two firefighters were assigned to a movement-guided training program (MOV), conventional fitness (FIT), or control (CON) group. Before and after 12 weeks of training, participants performed a fitness evaluation and laboratory-based test.
Here are some of the results.
“FIT and MOV groups exhibited significant improvements in all aspects of fitness; however, only MOV exhibited improvements in spine and frontal plane knee motion control when performing each transfer task. FIT exhibited less controlled spine and frontal plane knee motions while squatting, lunging, pushing, and pulling.”
“More MOV participants (43%) exhibited only positive post-training changes (i.e., improved control), in comparison with FIT (30%) and CON (23%). Fewer negative post-training changes were also noted (19, 25, and 36% for MOV, FIT, and CON).”
”These findings suggest that placing an emphasis on how participants move while exercising may be an effective training strategy to elicit behavioral changes beyond the gym environment.”
In short: exercise programs designed with a movement-oriented approach benefit occupational athletes, such asfirefighters, soldiers, and police officers the most.
Natural Movement is about efficiency not just effectiveness
MovNat training sessions are all about movement quality, preparing participants for real life situations. It’s just as much brain training as it is physical exercise. Although conventional fitness can help you gain strength by building more muscle, real fitness is not just about adding more weight, is it?
To be effective in the long run, we’re looking for efficiency. Since you cannot perform when you’re injured, being able to finish a task and staying injury free is key. Hence, quality over quantity is what counts. Strength gained by adding more weight to poor movement shows in big muscles without any purpose besides looking fit. And that’s where the problem is.
Many people have become so externally obsessed it doesn’t even matter anymore if your body is a mess or your mind is running on empty. Why not be more mindful of what movement can do for you as a complete, balanced human being next time you decide to ‘hit the gym’? Why not add some purpose to your practice?
Going barefoot can be your first step into natural movement. It will challenge you on every level. Learning to walk, then run naturally is a great foundation for a holistic approach to fitness. Or why not start by fixing your feet?