Friday, 14 November 2014
Human movement in paleolithic times\hunter gatherer times
Hunter gatherers from South America were visiting continental
America a few years ago and on seeing people exercising in a park
could not understand why they would do that. They (the “visitors”
) thought exercise was ridiculous! It was an alien concept to them.
Modern and paleolithic hunter gatherers do no exercise or work as
such – the only work was getting food, shelter, having off spring,
helping the tribe to survive etc.
Getting food, for hunters, was search, stalk\chase, kill, butcher,
carry. For foragers, a similar cycle.
There were no trains, planes & automobiles etc. Getting around
is exclusively by walking, running and all out sprinting
occassionally. When food became scarce and it became to far to walk
back to camp that day then the camp was shifted by a migratory walk
carrying the few possessions hunter gathers have. Adults also got to
carry small children.
Shelter for a hunter gatherer is little aside from a roof and
maybe some walls there is little else except the ground. Furniture is
a modern idea. Any conveninent logs, rocks and the ground are all
there is in the way of furniture to sit on in a hunter gathers world.
Sleep is on the ground or maybe on flat mats. Toilet seats don't
exist except, depending on your anthropometry and range of motion,
the back of your calves when in the squatting position.
Resting postures, there are many... well there is a little
information available there thanks to anthropology.
Studies on recent and still living hunter gathers gives us some
good information. Archeological information on such things is more
limited but there are clues from preserved tools\weapons, skeletons
of ancestors and prey etc. For example, tool making means
manipulation using hands, elbow, shoulder, with support provided by
torso etc and in some cases support or actions by the other hand in
others unilateral action. Evidence of muscular development can be
obtained from skeletal remains which includes more pronounced and
differing development of muscles on left versus right arms etc.
In relation to primal-paleo like diets, it is clear from both
recent hunter gatherers and our ancestors that there were ranges of
diets, with some seasonal variation and particularly with variation
that depends on the distance of the HG population from the equator.
For example, traditional eskimo versus equatorial HG. It should be no
surprise that the human movement patterns amongst hunter gatherers
also show variation (but within limits so that trends may be
Hunting involves the stages of search, stalk\chase, kill,
butcher, carry and eat. For example, “persistance” hunting
occurs in a few hot parts of the world where the human hunter with a
superior thermoregulatory system, uses this advantage, to run the
prey into the ground over a prolonged time frame involving hours and
then moves in for the kill. Hunters will often eat some of the prey
at the site where the carcass is cut up. It all has to be carried
back to base anyway, so why not carry some in the stomach. This also
facilitates nutrition for the purposes of recovery from exertion. In
the case of persistance hunting, blood drinking is often noted –
whilst it may seem unpalatable to us – it is interesting to note
that blood is a rich source of sodium (which is lost during
sweating). For example, bovine blood contains about0.3g/100 ml. So, a
300ml cup of bovine blood would contain around ~1g of sodium. Modern
“sports “ drinks contain around ~0.3g sodium per cup.
The more usual hunting method involves a shorter stalk\chase
period under an hour, followed by a short stealthy stalk or a chase
leading to a kill etc.If the kill does not occur straight away then
there may be a further tracking\chase phase until the animal dies or
Considering the overall movement patterns (ie the overall trend ),
deviations outside the range of human requirements and limitations
would be anticipated to lead to ill-health (&injury).
Whilst some journalists and ignorant people allege that the
primal- paleo movement requires its practitioners to go and live in
caves, make spears and hunt mammals, that is clearly not the case.
Most of us would not want to. That's why I call this blog Space Age
Paleo. Mimicking the essential elements of movement does not mean
prescriptive replication of the HG way of life. Although, I suppose
if you were intensely motivated and were prepared to drop out of
society you could do that.
Human movement is that which occurs through out the day and night.
This includes consideration of exercise, non-exercise activity (the
rest of the day) and sleep. The first step is to categorize and
weight the types\range of “natural” human movements.