The importance of floor movement

There have been a few pieces flying around the interwebz in the last few months about the importance of floor living.

My kids live on the floor, they are up and down off of it and crawling around constantly. Something happens as we get older – we stop playing, worry about being ‘dirty’ and start to avoid being on the floor, and pretty soon it becomes difficult. This is wrong, we shouldn’t abandon moving around the floor just because we are ‘grown up’.

Most of what I’ve seen written recently has focused on the basics of sitting on the floor, getting up and down and crawling – which are fundamental. It can also be taken a bit further and be much more fun.

Where to start?

Start at the start. Ask yourself – when was the last time you sat on the floor for a decent amount of time?

Dan John made a great suggestion in a recent post: “Watch all the television you want, but you must be on the floor sitting when you do.”

Then practice getting up and down off the floor any way you can. Think about how you are moving and try to make it as easy as possible.

  • One way to do this is practice Turkish Get Ups without weight.
  • Roll on the floor and try some basic crawls – I highly recommend you check out Becoming Bulletproof for more on this.

Once you become more comfortable on the floor you can add variety into the ways you get up and down off of the floor, try different crawls and maybe start to add weight to the movements.

This article on the MovNat site has some excellent examples of how to do this.

And then…

Then take it beyond the fundamental and useful. Get playful and add additional complexity to how you move. Doing so will also bring additional confidence in your ability for floor-based movement.

I’ve mentioned Ido Portal’s floreio work and the book Capoeira Conditioning before and both are excellent examples of how to take this stuff further.

It’s also worth looking into basic tumbling – forward and backward rolls, plus cartwheels. Tumbling Drills is a great resource.

I put some of the basic stuff into my warmups and do more complex movements on my ‘medium‘ days. I think this kind of movement can really help people stay healthy as they age – the more comfortable you are moving around the floor the less you will fear being or falling onto it.

Give it a go – you’ll learn a lot about your body and have a loads of fun.

Here’s Ido Portal showing where you can take this stuff

MovNat London workshop – Tired but happy

Tired but happy. I think that’s how we all felt after attending the London MovNat workshop last weekend. It was a great day.

The workshop was an excellent introduction to all that is MovNat – loads of great ideas and techniques, with lots to go away and practice. I was glad to have a notebook to hand, my brain and body were buzzing by the end of the day!

Vic Verdier did a great job of condensing a huge amount of movement skills into one day. The pace was quick and we didn’t spend an extended period of time on any particular technique. This was inevitable we covered a huge amount of content, and much more preferable than missing things out.

The workshop format loosely followed the evolutionary progress of humans, starting with flip flopping on the ground and working way our way through the following movements:

  • Crawling
  • Standing posture
  • Balancing
  • Lifting
  • Walking
  • Running
  • Jumping
  • Climbing
  • Throwing

The workshop was paced brilliantly (Vic knows what he’s doing!). The intensity built gradually throughout the morning finishing with a circuit of the skills we had learned so far. The rest over lunch was very welcome but stopping moving meant that some stiffness started to creep into our muscles (or it did mine at least). Fortunately we picked things up slowly after the break with walking and gradually increased the intensity at a pace we barely noticed. Before long we were outside chasing each other up and down the street.

Going by their facial expressions, the locals thought a group of crazies had descended on their bit of London!

Technique is everything

There were three main themes that ran through everything we were doing:

  • Maintain good posture in movement
  • Use the most efficient, effective technique
  • Practice movements with real life applications

A key takeaway for me was to concentrate on mastering technique rather than artificially creating fatigue to simply get stronger. If you start by jumping a distance of 30cm, that’s ok – master it and build from there.

The focus should be on good form rather than more weight/distance/speed so rather then just doing the movements, you do them well. The aim is that an activity can be repeated over and over again with as little fatigue as possible.

I think there is a good reason that climbing techniques are in the last part of the day – by that time you are too tired to muscle it, efficient technique is the only way you are getting up!


Real life vs party tricks

Vic made the point that MovNat is about practicing stuff with potential real life applications, anything else is just party tricks. It’s totally fine to train them as they can be fun and certainly build great levels of strength, but it is the ability to apply that strength in a real life situation that is important.

For me this is about maintaining honesty with yourself with regards to your training – I love training the back lever and other basic gymnastic movements but they won’t help me become better at climbing/jumping/balancing etc unless I also practice those techniques.


A way of approaching movement

The ideas behind MovNat make sense. Our bodies are designed to perform a full range of useful movement skills – so we should do them. To not do so is like having a Ferrari and only using it to pop to the shops and back, the full potential is wasted.

That doesn’t mean MovNat has to be the only form of exercise you do – although the results would likely be excellent. Instead, by adding in a session or two a week, MovNat can help plug any gaps in your movement skill so if need be you can do it all.

You will feel and move better as a result, and have a lot of fun along the way.

Indoor natural movement workout

My plans to go outside and have a natural movement style workout in the park have been scuppered in the last two weeks by crap weather.

I don’t mind running in the rain but crawling about and climbing trees doesn’t appeal. Maybe I just need to break away from the shackles of modern life and get muddy but this week decided to stay indoors and do a similar style workout – I thought I’d share it to show how they can be to put together:

I did some ring ring work to start. It’s an optional extra bit of climbing work, it would be a great workout anyway.

Optional extra climbing

  • Muscle up practice (self spotted from kneeling)
  • Ring routine (pulling)

Natural movement circuit – 5 rounds

  • Spiderman crawl – 20m around house
  • Crab walk – 20m around house
  • Balance crawl – 20m around house
  • Balance squat walks – 20m around house
  • Towel chins – 5

Finisher

  • 70m sprints x 3

I didn’t have anything to balance along the length of the floor but instead picked a line in the wood floor and followed that, you could do the same with a pattern in the carpet, or even put down some string. The balance crawl was moving along it on all fours, the squat walks involved walking along the line and squatting down after each step.

If the weather was good you could also do this outside. All you would need is a log to do the balances on and a tree to climb in place of the towel chins.