Movement Mondays: The Biomechanics of a Hug

Welcome to Movement Mondays, your weekly movement exploration and tutorials for a better aligned body that makes you feel good inside and out.

Since humans first discovered that it feels good to wrap your arms around somebody else, we have been enjoying the act of hugging. From the tender holding of a crying baby, the supportive embrace for a friend in need, or an enthusiastic greeting of a loved one; hugs are for many people, a integral part of being in relationship with others.

If we look at hugging objectively, it is an interesting human movement. We open our vulnerable front of the body- the place when in fight or flight we instictively close off and protect- into very close proximity to another. And yet for some people when we are with a person that we love, such as a friend, parent, child or lover, it can feel like the most natural thing in the world to pull that person close, arms wrapped around and holding each other heart to heart. An important act of trust and love.

Witnessing a beautiful hug between my friend and one of her loving sons.

Witnessing a beautiful hug between my friend and one of her loving sons.

And to me, hugs feel good. I don't know about you but I am a big hugger. I routinely embrace the people in my world as a warm hello, often as support and a way to show that I care. My favourite is when I see an old friend and as we hug, we erupt into gales of silly laughter for no reason other than we are happy to see each other. So good.

The emotional benefits of hugging are huge but what about the physical benefits? What ARE the biomechanics of hugging? Because the mind and body are intricately tied together, what benefits the mind, will benefit the body and vice versa. So while you are enjoying human connection through a hug, you are moving your body. It may not be a big movement, you aren't doing some big stretch or workout, but you are reaching through your arms, breathing deeper and hopefully feeling a little bit better than you did before the hug.

Take a moment and think about some memorable hugs you have had in your life. What stands out for you? The way you felt supported and cared for, without words? Was there a sense of safety and trust in the simple act of being close to another person?

This week, embrace those you love. Pull them in close with mindful awareness, noticing how it feels to be heart to heart with some of your favourite people. For some, physical intimacy can be difficult, so the benefits of hugs could come from furry friends like a pet cat or dog.

Have a great week everyone and happy hugging!