I am going to lay all my cards on the table here, and talk about one of the weakest forms of argumentation that shows up now and again when we discuss various health and fitness habits.
“Do X, because that’s what nature intended!”
This argument will pop up when discussing footwear for lifting, proper food to eat, etc. “We were designed by nature to do X, therefore we should continue to do it.” “X is better because it is more natural.”
Obviously the first problem you run across with this argument is the definition of natural. Webster defines natural as:
a : being in accordance with or determined by nature b : having or constituting a classification based on features existing in nature
There are a few problems with this definition. First off, one could take it to mean that natural implies that anything made by man is unnatural. Second is that since man is part of nature, and since he makes objects out of materials present in “nature”, nearly anything can be considered “natural”.
Nature can also be considered a bitch
Some individuals may say that things like lifting shoes, straps, protein powder, etc. are bad because they are unnatural. Instead, they say, we should do dynamic movements using just our bodies, since it is more natural.
Well I have a question for you: Can you define natural? Like Rob Schmidt said, humans aren’t built with very many defenses against the elements, but one thing we do have is an intellect that allows us to adapt. That is our superior skill: Adaptability. Agent Smith had it right: humans are comparable to a virus, and much like a virus, we are able to adapt to different environments and scenarios. We may not have been born with shoes on our feet, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t wear them. Shoes are awesome: They keep my feet from walking in dog shit, glass, and hypodermic needles around the city. Wearing toe shoes is no more natural than wearing a conventional shoe when looking at it from a philosophical standpoint.
I find it funny that individuals write that X is unnatural, typed from their cell phone which is connected to the internet that allows them to communicate instantly with someone else half a world away. How “natural” is that? You cannot chastise something as being unnatural when at the same time doing a laundry list of other unnatural things, such as: living in a house, wearing pants, going to a grocery store, living in a city, talking on a cell phone, drinking from the faucet, using a camera, and flying in an airplane.
Guess what? We didn’t stop living in caves because we were forced to. Living in a cave sucks and if a better option came along, you better believe that humans would take it, because that’s what we do. You could even go so far as to call controlling fire “unnatural”, along with possessing the knowledge to read and write.
My point here is to highlight the fact that most people don’t even have a clear definition of what “natural” is, let alone what qualifies and disqualifies as natural. People far smarter than you or I have tried and continue to try and explain what exactly natural is, and it will take you down a philosophical road you probably don’t want to be on. Leave the natural argument on the shelf and find a better way to engage in conversation.
We all love squats, but lets be honest, the “natural” aspect of a squat ends after the air squat. Overhead squats, cleans, low bar squats are movements that are present in sports and should be treated as such. Use appropriate equipment for your sport, don’t be afraid to supplement as necessary in order to reach your goals. “Natural “is relative to the person saying it, and for me, I will utilize any and all tools I can to reach my goals, because I am an adaptable human who uses tools.
Will you join me, or are you going to continue living in your cave?