How does physical movement inform consciousness?

Have you ever wondered how we got to this point in our evolutionary history? How did we become so much less physical than our ancestors? How did we become so much more intellectually advanced? We’ve been through more than a few changes throughout our evolutionary history as human beings. Not the least of which have been physical changes. For millennia our physicality has been informing our consciousness, and our consciousness has been informing our physicality. Some people think we’ve gone too far away from “normal” human activities and are experiencing the consequences in our health. Others view technology as a godsend that will ultimately find a solution for the health issues we’re experiencing. I fall somewhere in between, and love asking questions about where we’ve been, where we are, and where we should be headed as highly conscious physical beings.

I’m sure many of you have seen this meme, and most of you probably found it a little disturbing. It definitely highlights some troubling aspects of our evolution, but more than anything it makes me wonder what it must have been like having such a highly physical human experience like our ancestors. I believe a lot of that physicality is rooted in survival, and as we became more clever and more evolved we found ways to do more than survive. Yet in some ways we are still very much in survival mode. Today survival looks dramatically different than it did 10,000 years ago. I would guess that 10,000 years ago, the level of collective/communal thought occurred on a level that we can’t really comprehend today. Their struggles were dramatically different than ours, and so was their orientation to pain and physicality. And as easy as it is for us to romanticize times of the past, I believe that we ended up here for a reason.

In some sense we’re all participating in and evolving this human experience, so I believe it’s important to find a way to learn from our past (not romanticize it) in order to properly engage in the present and build a better future.

I say all this, and I know I’m a hypocrite and don’t live up to that vision sometimes. It’s a complex world and it’s not so easy to simply navigate your way to a better future. I do think, however, that one of the first steps we can take towards a better future is discussing what that future looks like. It’s obvious to most of us (especially in the Western world) that we’re dealing with a vast array of modern ailments that arose out of our dramatic changes in lifestyle over the past few hundred years. We haven’t evolved to handle our modern diets and movement habits, and every day we feel the consequences of our new lifestyles through pain, injury, and diseases that our ancestors mostly didn’t experience.

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Glute Activation: A Western Epidemic

A few years ago I remember hearing Tiger Woods on national television saying his poor performance was due to his glute not activating. Now if I were to speculate, I would guess that there were more than few other reasons Tiger was struggling, but that’s another story. When I first heard him talk about this issue of a glute not firing, I had no idea what he was talking about, and I was confused as to why he was blaming his dysfunctional ass for his poor performance. Little did I know, that this issue of glutes not activating/firing is actually an epidemic that plagues a substantial portion of the Western world. So many of us are experiencing pain in other parts of our body (knees, back, etc.) from a glute not activating, yet have no idea we’re dealing with this issue.

If there’s one thing we are consistently good at in the Western world, it’s sitting. This is a major contributor to the issue of one or both glutes not firing.

Since meeting Elisha I’ve become aware that I lot of the pain I was experiencing was likely due to a lack of glute activation. For me, it’s been the right gluteus medius and left gluteus maximus not firing. Just one glute muscle consistently not firing is enough to cause a compensation pattern that eventually causes us pain.

I’ve been working the past few weeks with my friend Jason who is a trainer and Kinetix practitioner, trying to get my glutes firing. He’s had a lot of success helping people in this arena, so Elisha hooked me up with some training sessions to see if we could get my glutes activating consistently. I’m definitely making incremental progress, and I experience my glutes firing more often (but not always) in movements where they should activate. My nervous system has been stubborn as hell, and those compensation patterns I developed early on are deeply engrained. Yes, I’m a difficult case ;).

It’s amazing how deeply entrenched those compensation patterns can be, but it shouldn’t surprise me. After all, I had been sitting for the majority of my day every day since I started grade school and I never learned to lift weights or perform athletic movements properly when I was playing sports. These compensation patterns happen to so many of us, and often we have no idea that they’re happening.

This issue of glute inactivation is both a fascinating and disturbing phenomenon of Western society that needs to be addressed.

I’m curious to learn more about this topic, hear your stories, and provide more insights as I start to have more success getting my own glutes firing. Do you think you have a glute not firing? Do you have pain that could be caused by a lack of glute activation? Have you ever had experience with a glute not firing and found a way to get it firing again? This epidemic of glutes not firing is something that’s affected me and so many others, so I’d love to hear your thoughts on this and any success stories you might have with getting glutes to activate.

Please share this post if you’ve had issues with glute activation or if you want to contribute to the conversation. If you have comments or questions drop them below! And if you enjoyed this Mobility Mastery Q&A and have a question that you’d like us to feature, please send your questions to so I can surprise Elisha with them :).

See ya next time,