Have a desk job? These moves undo the damage of sitting and work your abs too
Primal movements on all fours help your hip flexibility and core strength. Here's how to get started
Sitting down all day? You need to make sure you make time in your day for regular movement. However, a short run might not be enough to offset the damage of a sedentary lifestyle: you may need something that opens up your hips and strengthens your legs, arms, and core.
While exercises such as barbell squats, pull-ups, and dips can hit all your major muscle groups, and stretching exercises can loosen up your hips, hamstrings and prevent pain in your lower back, primal movements – exercises such as inchworms (as illustrated below), or bear crawls – can improve your range of motion while toning up your muscles.
This research comes courtesy of the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, which highlights the benefits of animal flow-style exercise. According to the study, this "quadrupedal movement training" or QMT, is a form of bodyweight training incorporating "animal poses, transitions, and crawling patterns to reportedly improve fitness".
The research found QMT improved hip flexion, hip lateral rotation, and shoulder extension, as well as fundamental movement test scores. This is especially important in regards to the hip-focused movements, as studies have found prolonged sitting is associated with limited hip extension.
Yep, that's right: crawling around like an animal can actually help your fitness and flexibility. What's more, it fundamentally improves your balance and proprioception, feeling more 'natural' in your movement.
This sort of training was championed by high-profile trainers such as Ido Portal, an Israeli 'movement guru' who trained famous mixed-martial artist Conor McGregor at the peak of his career. Drawing inspiration from a variety of sources such as yoga, dance, gymnastics and martial arts, Portal's 'movement' training has garnered a huge following online.
Below, you can find five basic primal movements to try for the first time, thanks to the popular YouTube channel 'Strength Side'.
Watch: 5 primal movements to try
These "natural movements" can help you increase your hip flexibility and avoid the back pain associated with long periods sat in the chair, but they're not the only way of doing so. Getting one of our best office chairs or practicing yoga on one of our best yoga mats can also improve your comfort at work, or boost the range of motion in your lower back, hips and legs.
Matt Evans is an experienced health and fitness journalist and is currently Fitness and Wellbeing Editor at TechRadar, covering all things exercise and nutrition on Fit&Well's tech-focused sister site. Matt originally discovered exercise through martial arts: he holds a black belt in Karate and remains a keen runner, gym-goer, and infrequent yogi. His top fitness tip? Stretch.
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