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Let's get back to the ground!

As humans we begin our movement journey on the ground, on our four extremities, crawling and falling for months, while we develop the required muscle synergies and strength that will eventually lead us to become effective bipedal movers! 

Being in contact with the ground is being less and less common as we age, especially on western cultures. Reaching for something on the ground or standing from it without using our hands, carrying a baby, tools or a meal, should part of our natural activity, but we have almost lost it. During adulthood, the stigma and social conventions of being in closer contact with the ground may be preventing us from exploiting the benefits of occasional quadrupedal movements.

After practicing natural movement principles for some years now (hébertisme-inspired), I believe that the coordination, mobility, and strength developed by performing weight-bearing movements on four limbs could have a very positive impact in our general physical aptitude. This may reflect in higher activity levels through our lifetime, with the associated benefits at more advanced age.

I would not like to limit this to ground movement, but to "natural" training methods as whole. Although ground movements are very relatable and accessible to the wider population than hanging or climbing skills.

Let's not forget our humble ground-based beginnings!

I would like to know about:

- The public views on natural approaches to physical and motor skill training

- If anyone is aware of research done in this area

- Anyone interested in exchanging thoughts about this

edited on Oct 27, 2020 by Octavio Zamudio
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Siana Jones 11 months ago

Status label added: Innovative idea!

I like it! So how would it work? where would you do it? at home? or would you design a specialist gym class? it sounds not too distant from a Pilates exercise class.

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Octavio Zamudio 11 months ago

Hi Siana,
It can be done at home, or elsewhere. Of course, the more variety the environment allows, the funnier it gets! having properly-enabled outdoor spaces would be awesome, but is not a limiting factor.
The idea would be to teach the basics so that participants can do it at their own pace and preferred spots, with the option to taking a collective classes. Virtual classes via an app would be easy to follow too.
Unlike Pilates, it doesn't consist of targeted movements or holds, but in utilitarian movements patterns...

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Miroslava Katsur 11 months ago

Hi Octavio! I've never heard of hebertisme before, so I found this website https://en.hebertisme.com/ to learn more about it. However, I did not find enough information about standing on four limbs. I guess it works like yoga in a way and strengtens the muscles. Could you tell me your idea of how older people can engage in this type of method? Some people may need guidance of a professional, encouragement and support. What types of hebertismic exercise in particular would you recommend to start with for someone who has not exercised before? And, finally, how engineers can help older people to harness the benefits of this method?

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Octavio Zamudio 11 months ago

Well, it's not very well known, as it almost disappeared after its creator died in early 1900's. But it was luckily rescued by some other movement-based philosophies. Yes, I think that a very basic training sessions are needed for this, to avoid injuries in wrists. I think that group sessions could be the best approach initially, then when sufficiently used to it, it can be performed alone.
Check this link for a very basic example that most people would be able to perform safely with minor modifications. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rRldkI0UhQA

I think that we need to reconsider some basic concepts that are being abandoned with lifestyle. We have to think not only in the possible positive impacts that engineering might have in the future, but the collateral impacts that it has had. For instance, sitting all day, in front of a computer is not helping us, but has been enabled by a engineering. Not everything needs complex solutions, but understanding of the basics, especially if we talk about prevention. For instance, designing better, more functional and "human" furniture could benefit from research in this area. Alternative physio therapy, post-surgery rehab could be explored too. Could crawling help to reduce risk of wrist and upper body injuries in case of a fall? we can't answer that, but it would be useful to know from a prevention point of view.

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Miroslava Katsur 11 months ago

I see. Yes, I think that crawling may have a potential to reduce the risk of injuries because weight-bearing exercises increase bone density. I am interested in more functional "human" furniture and alternative physio therapy - do you know more about what can be done in this areas to improve old people's health and wellbeing? Maybe there's some ideas which are circulating already. Thanks in advance!

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Emily Crawford 11 months ago

Yes I love the idea of getting back to basis but would also be interested in interesting how older people can engage in this method?

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Octavio Zamudio 11 months ago

Hi Emily!

This is a great question. I would say that like any other class, yoga, tai-chi, pilates... the fact is that the more you get used to this movements, the easier is to improvise your training. There's a very interesting conversation to be had about how to enable this, and how to trial the best way to approach it when it comes to older people.
I guess that we should also consider having a look at Asian cultures as an example of how being "friends with the floor" isn't that distant from our modern culture.

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Angie Bianco 9 months ago

It's a great idea. The support needs to be available for people to do this in thier own homes though so not practical unless there are younger, fitter people around to enable this. It's something which needs to be practiced prior to becoming less mobile and Yoga is a particular beneficial method.

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Octavio Zamudio 9 months ago

Hi Angie! As you mention, people with some mobility restrictions may encounter this a bit challenging, simply standing up from the floor is something that not everyone is able to do without assistance. However, there's an age gap that could greatly benefit from this before losing strenght and mobility. Precisely, the idea here is to focus on prevention, rather than consultation. Yoga and a other approaches fit well here, I would argue, however, that the more varied and "dynamic" the movements, the greater the benefit. But there's a lack of research to support this. This needs to be addressed to understand better which, and how how, ground-based movements maximise physical conditioning.

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Georgie Cade 9 months ago

Status label removed: Innovative idea!

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