Most training methods for athletes and hobby sportsmen/women take place in an upright position. The so-called ground-based exercises and workout flow on the ground are a beneficial alternative for every training program. These exercises are postures and movements that are not performed standing. They are done for instance horizontally or by crawling, they are ground-based.
That’s why they’re called animal athletics, too. Postures and patterns of early childhood phase and animals are part of the training, as examples consider the locomotion of crabs, monkeys or lizards.
It provides a better movement intelligence, control and dynamic. The reactivation of past patterns, which we once learned and now unlearned, again is a central part of this diversified body weight training. As mentioned above functional movement is controlled by input of proprioceptors.
The position and location of the body are communicated in fractions of seconds via feedback loops to the spinal cord, and the body reacts. Meanwhile, receptors will be trained in the movements and body positions for which they are created, for us human beings this is the upright posture. In the physical education, this is called proprioceptive integrity.
How human movement evolves
The motor-driven development takes place in a more or less chronologically sequence (neuromusculoskeletal developmental sequence). From lifting the head up in a prone position, which occurs around the time we are 1 or 2 months old, up until the time we are able to roll from supine into a prone position, around 6 to 8 month old. It’s a slow process.
In contrast to many other mammals it takes approximately 18 months until a human is able to walk – starting from bottom near movements (rolling, leaning, creeping, crawling) to more or less reliable and controlled upright movement. This time the body needs to mature its nervous, muscular- and skeleton system.
In ground-based training, such as animal athletics, we adults go back to where we as children learned our motor-driven and neurologic patterns, the fundamental movement patterns. There the segments which are required to fulfil each movement had to offer higher mobility and stability. Thus we work in a lower movement level to, therefore, improve the movement quality of the next level (upright posture). That is comparable with a very experienced pianist, who is continually doing finger exercises at the clavier to better play his demanding symphonies, which are analogue to the complex movement patterns of the human body.
Why you should include Animal Athletics in your workout
Our movement is driven by external impacts, by impulses and sensations. That includes a physical and biological driver.
Physical drivers are all forces that impact our body, like its own mass (body weight), the affecting impulse (colloquial “momentum/swing of the body”), gravity, ground reaction force (a force which impacts the body when touching the ground). Gravity pulls our body (mass) towards earth and creates a groundwards/ downwards directed compression of the body. The body has to counteract the gravity force. The whole musculature reacts in a way similar to that of a chain reaction to prevent that we fall, and thereby making focused locomotion possible.
All these forces differ in upright and ground positions because all four extremities and the swing of our body must intercept and decelerate differently, to prevent falling down.
This is used in ground-based training. Furthermore, there are different aspects like changed joint angles, separate muscular control and physiological components like respiration and blood circulation, which operate differently in an upright position.
Benefits of ground-based training:
- Maximized activation of receptors
- Increase of mobility
- Conscious usage of gravity
- A minor load of the spine
- Improved blood circulation
- Improved digestive system
- Improved breathing