In my previous article, I listed the benefits of ground-based movement, and the best method I’ve used in practice is Animal Flow. This mobility modality is a fairly new practice compared to others like yoga, it’s only been around for a little over a decade. But it is a modern practice meant to combat modern problems that plague the general population.
Due to the nature of modern work and transportation, most people’s bodies are not in proper anatomical alignment. There is also a lack of general movement, we don’t walk around as much as humans are meant to and we only physically exert ourselves for an hour each day with planned exercise (if we even do that).
This gives us what is commonly described as “stiff muscles” or “knots in the muscle”. But it’s not your muscles that are out of place (if this was the case you would be in severe pain and in the hospital), the misalignment lies in your fascia. Fascia is the silver lining that encapsulates every muscle, organ, and bone in your body. It is what allows your body to move, the nerve receptors from your Central Nervous System run through the fascia. If you lack proper fascial alignment then your reaction time is slower and you cannot achieve maximum physical capacity. This causes the body to plateau or becomes more susceptible to damage.
The fascia can be realigned through mobility training. Depending on how misaligned it is will determine how long it will take to get it back to where it should be (6-12 months typically). Once you get back to real “normal” you will almost feel superhuman. Fascia tissue runs crossbody in an X pattern and Animal Flow practices crossbody and contralateral movements which bring the fascia back into alignment. An Animal Flow class is broken up into 6 components that first primes the body then allows it to perform uninhibited.
- Wrist Mobilizations: passive exercises to reach end range of motions and prime the joints for ground movement and forward loading (elbows past wrists, shoulders past elbows, or hand balancing).
- Activations: these are static/isometric holds that are a way of waking up the body. Activations are great assessment tools that can be used as a corrective exercise.
- Form Specific Stretches: a combination of flexibility and stability stretches that begin in a base animal position. These are not passive stretches but moving in and out of your end range of motion.
- Traveling Forms: animal locomotion with specific technique that allows the human body to mimic animals to improve the “Human-Animal”. These are grouped into the ABC’s of animal movements; Ape, Beast, and Crab.
- Switches and Transitions: dynamic movements that take you from one base position to another. They make up the bulk of a flow and are used as drills or are utilized as a stand-alone exercise.
- Flow: Take 3, 4, and 5 then chain link the moves and base positions together into a sequence. There are three types of flows; Choreographed, Call-Outs, and Free Flow. A Level 1 Animal Flow class will typically be a Call-Out flow, which is where the instructor will tell you what moves to go into next much like a game of Simon Says. It’s also similar to a yoga class, the teacher will tell you what pose you will perform next from the one you are already in.
The benefits of an Animal Flow practice go beyond just fascial alignment. Most exercise programs have you working in isolation, which is contrary to how the human body is designed to move. We move in 3 planes in a 3D space, a standard exercise (especially machine-based) keeps you in one or two spaces in a nondynamic way with one or two joints working. Some forms of HIIT classes or other training do have you move through all 3 planes, but none have you move as fluidly as Animal Flow with the added benefit of increasing proprioception (where your body lies in space or your “6th sense”) and utilizing all of your joints.
If this sounds like what you need to improve your physicality then come join me for Animal Flow classes in Charlotte. Reach out at firstname.lastname@example.org to get on the list for weekly classes.