Part 1 – Sideways Undulation

The steps in our evolutionary movement patterns, echo in the developmental patterns from baby to adult, and play an important part in our health and body function. Over a series of posts we will explore the developmental stages and the role they play in our health today, with strengthening exercises alongside.

  1. Sideways Undulation

The first key movement is the snake-like sideways undulation. Present in fish, this movement in human beings helps massage the small muscles along the spine and stretch out each side. It helps balance the right and left in our body, especially in our muscular and skeletal systems which have symmetry around the spine.


In mathematical terms, this movement can be mapped as a sinusoidal wave. Here is a video link to see it in action: the snake-like wave.

Importance to health

Each vertebrae has the ability to move in this way, creating the sideways wave up the spine. When we develop stiffness in an area or become stuck in a postural pattern, the movement around the individual vertebrae reduce.

Here are some ways to explore the sideways undulation:

Creating the wave

Sitting on a chair, make sure you feel contact with the sit bones and imagine a string lifting up from the top of the head. The string pulls toward the right and then the left, creating the wave through the spine.

You may initially feel the movement in the vertebrae of your neck. See if you can feel the movement lower down the spine, in the thoracic (chest) region or lumbar region (lower back).

You may find one section is easier to feel. Can you feel it in the quieter areas of the spine too? And does it feel the same on both sides?

Keeping the movement gentle and fluid, this is a wonderful way of supporting the spine.

Opening along the side

Standing with feet shoulder width apart, reach one hand up in the air. Gradually take it over your head and imagine a light going through your arm and into the sky, whilst another goes down through the foot on the same side into the earth.

Stretch it to the maximum (100%) and then reduce the stretch to 95%, stay here and breathe.

(Additional steps to play with are bringing the imagined beams of light to exit the top of your head and at the tail bone/bottom of the spine)

Keep your eyes peeled as next time we begin to explore the origins of counter-torsion, with the evolutionary step on to land and development of limbs.