Benefits of Animal Flow®️
The Animal Flow®️ programme certainly evokes a sense of fun and creativity, but it is still at its heart based solidly in science. It draws upon multiple, proven concepts within exercise science and kinesiology to formulate its overall approach to fitness and movement. The programme is structured around several factors that contribute to its grounding in scientific research; it is entirely bodyweight training based, using closed-chain exercises to achieve goals; it emphasis multi-planar and functional movement focused on anatomical subsystems; it is designed to integrate into a range of fitness programmes and resistance training models; and it provides for assessment, regression, and progression with each step.
The specific exercises that comprise the Animal Flow®️ Workout are themselves highly effective examples of various exercise modalities designed to increase mobility, flexibility, stability, power, endurance, skills, and neuromuscular development. Every movement included in the programme has a specific function.
The quadruped position, with both hands and both feet on the ground, is the base position for Animal Flow. There is growing evidence supporting the efficacy of movement based around this position.
Learning to crawl plays an important role in our early neurodevelopment stages. A baby experiences the process of locomotion through both reptilian and mammalian crawling phases. These phases are incredibly important for development neural coordination while simultaneously building muscle synergies that will be the foundation for bipedal gait. Crawling benefits include:
- Stimulating and organising neurons to help cognitive processes like comprehension, concentration and memory
- Establishing hand/eye coordination important for reading, writing and sports activities
- Conditioning binocular vision, i.e. looking off into the distance and then back at the hands
- Strengthening both the left and right side of the brain by practising cross-lateral movement, which allows increased communication between the two sides of the brain and enhancing learning
Communication is one of the central benefits of the Animal Flow practice. This includes not only the communication that one has consciously with their body (sense of self/spatial awareness) but also the interconnected communication throughout the human movement system (nervous, muscular and skeletal).
One of the ways that the body communicates with itself to produce safe movement is by relying on feedback from receptors that are constantly gathering information about both the internal body as well as the external environment. This information is considered proprioception.
Both the feet and hands have an incredibly high number of sensory receptors. This makes for a proprioceptively rich environment when hands and feet are in contact with the ground, as in quadruped. But the information feed doesn’t just stop there. As mentioned above, there are mechanoreceptors in muscle, tendon and joints that are sensitive to load. In the quadrupedal position, almost every articulation and its corresponding soft tissue is loaded by the body’s own weight, as it resists the downward pull of gravity.
All of this information sets the stage for the body to communicate on a very high level. The hips must speak to the shoulders, through the spine, out to the limbs and vice versa.
Closed Chain Exercises
All movements within Animal Flow are closed-chain exercises, which means that limbs connect to the ground or another object in a constant, fixed position, and resistance is created by pushing or pulling against it, moving the body rather than the object. The biomechanics of closed-chain exercises mean that multiple joints and multiple muscle groups are worked at once, making them a “functional” form of exercise likely to produce superior results. The multiple joint and muscle action is considered more functional because real-life daily activities and sports activities tend to require utilisation of multiple muscles, rather than isolated muscles and joint actions.
Sign up for my Animal Flow®️ Classes here.