Nutritional Movement is a phrase coined by the wonderful movement specialist and biomechanist Katy Bowman. It means movement that feeds your body neurological nutrients; Exploratory and varied movement stimulates our body-brain connection, strengthening existing as well as creating new neuropathways, which enhance our movement abilities. The broader these neuropathways are the broader our flexibility, stability, balance, and range of motion.
So how to get more out of your exercise? Let’s examine daily walking. I was recently in New Zealand visiting family and due to the location was doing most of my walking around on flat ground or pavement. It was all beautiful and felt good, but after coming from the Himalayan foothills I felt I wasn’t getting the same bio-feedback. My brain felt starved from that limited movement. Now that I’m back walking on the mountain paths, I can feel the difference. It’s subtle. It’s not just the ups and downs- it’s the uneven ground, the variations of camber, height of the steps, broadening and narrowing of paths, ducking branches, stepping over rocks and obstacles, even dancing around the local dogs at my feet. It all challenges my brain-body connections at every step, which creates an alertness and aliveness in my brain and sensory awareness.
We can’t always be in the places that give us this complex sensory feedback, but as I did in New Zealand, step off of the path sometimes. Find a hill, walk on the uneven grass next to the path, climb the bank that borders the path, find a local trail walk, take your shoes off and walk the sandy shore. Sometimes it’s not about how far or fast we walk or run, it’s the challenges to all our movement patterns when the loading of our muscles and joints is not constant and repetitive.