We live in incredible times. We drive our cars to work, take an elevator up to our office floor, plop up on our office chairs and stare at the computer screen until we walk to the office lobby to pick up our lunch delivery. Most people can avoid the need to exert any significant physical energy and stay sufficiently fed, paid and content their entire lives. How lucky we are! Unfortunately, these modern-day luxuries are often times at the root of most of our chronic pain issues.
If we watched a video of the typical day for a human from every century going back to the beginning of civilization and compared it to present day, there would be one clear distinction. The level of physical activity of our ancestors, even our grandparents from just a few generations ago, was substantially greater than the activity of a modern-day office worker. It is not surprising then that “approximately 34% of adults and 15–20% of children and adolescents in the U.S. are obese” and one-third of the world’s population is considered overweight. In addition, 52.8% of older adults in the United States reported to be suffering from some type of chronic pain. Can there be a connection?
If you carefully analyze the movement of animals in their natural habitat, it’s a beautiful sight. Millions of years of evolution and natural selection provided these animals with the capabilities to perform seemingly complex movements effortlessly. Humans are no different. We have evolved to flourish in our natural environments – to run, to lift, to climb – in accordance with our daily needs for survival. However, our current lifestyle has completely removed us from our natural habitat and consequently removed the need to utilize these functional movements.
Katy Bowman, a biomechanist who is a leading voice in natural movement, has extensively studied this phenomenon and addresses the dangers of living a sedentary lifestyle. She has identified the physical manifestation of symptoms when animals are separated from their natural environment as “diseases of captivity.” “The forces created by the way (quantities and qualities) you move through the environment most natural to your body create structural responses that your body depends on.” An example she provides is a killer whale that is much more likely to have a floppy fin if it is held captive in Sea World rather than living in its natural environment – the ocean.
This example is analogous to office-working humans. If we don’t use our bodies the way we have naturally evolved to, dysfunction and pain is inevitable. Numerous studies have shown that modern-day hunter gatherer societies suffer from nearly none of the chronic illnesses that people in developed nations suffer from.  These studies analyze the more serious diseases such as hypertension and diabetes but there is no question that an array of common symptoms such as low back pain or arthritis are equally attributable to our daily movement patterns, or lack thereof.
The environment we are currently exposed to has evolved faster than ever before in human existence. Daniel Liebrman, an evolutionary biologist from Harvard University explained that “[a]lthough human genes have changed moderately over the last few thousand years, cultural changes have dramatically transformed our environments, often resulting in a very different, arguably more important kind of evolutionary change than natural selection.” Our human bodies have not had the opportunity to catch up with the rapid cultural evolution of a sedentary inactive lifestyle and our bodies are still conditioned to be moving in nature. . . often.
But how do we do that? The reality is that most of us do work in an office all day, own cars and have a comfy apartment with a state of the art refrigerator. My main recommendation would be to give yourself some movement breaks throughout the day. Take the stairs to your office or park a little farther from the grocery store so you walk a little more. When you do have time to exercise, instead of picking up weights at the gym, pick up some logs in the woods. Instead of using a stair climber, climb up a steep hill in the mountains. Erwan Le Corre, creator of MovNat once asked: “How would you train a panther to be fit? Not on a treadmill.” The best way to get better at moving in nature is to move in nature.
 Bowman, Katy. Move Your DNA: Restore Your Health Through Natural Movement.
 Lieberman, Daniel. The Story of the Human Body: Evolution, Health and Disease.