Fighting the foetal position

The picture above is by Leonardo Da Vinci. It’s a drawing of the foetal position in the womb.

We all start this way. Quite a few of us end up this way towards the final years of our lives, as dementia ,strokes and just plain time, takes it’s toll on our nervous systems.

Some of us accelerate our return to this primordial position, with our lifestyle.

The foetal position isn’t inherently “bad”. But, if it appears at an inappropriate stage of your life, it means you’ve done something to cause it.

This is a position of weakness. When the anti gravity muscles start failing, when the impulses from your nervous system no longer try sincerely enough to push you upright against the pull of the earth.

It can happen if you are under threat.

The threat can be physical or mental.

  • Fear, anxiety, hypervigilance
  • Being bullied
  • Uncertain about the future
  • Deadlines
  • Loud noises (urban environment)
  • Chronic pain
  • Poor digestion, even without pain(will cause the musculature on the front of the body to increase it’s tone and hunch you over)
  • Poor vision causing you to crane forward
  • Desk bound occupations
  • Work that needs you to use near vision all the time
  • Lack of training the posterior chain
  • Habitual poor posture feeding into poor mood and depression, which worsens posture, which worsens mood


  • Strength training the posterior chain (kettlebell swings, deadlifts, climbing)
  • Quadruped, whole body movements that require hand eye coordination
  • Correcting your vision
  • Spending more time outdoors, forcing you to train far gaze
  • Looking up at the sky instead of into a phone
  • Confidence
  • Martial arts training/self defence training to reduce the feeling of being under threat(note- some martial arts train the use of foetal position as an advantage- Muay Thai and Western boxing, for example)
  • Clean, anti inflammatory diet (whatever that means for you) for me it means staying away from processed foods, sugar and grains
  • Mindful control of posture
  • Yoga, Tai chi
  • An omnivorous menu of physical activity. Using the same kind of training day in and day out, will lead to deficiencies and imbalances. Variety is the spice of life.

One exercise that specifically fights this position is the “Bridge”

Also known as the wrestlers bridge or the neck bridge. Needs to be done with care, and needs to be done regularly. Since it is best done under supervision to begin with, I’ll not be posting videos.

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