In the previous article I pointed out that the developmental movement patterns (eg crawling) learned in infancy are building blocks for the more complex movements that we use in our daily lives as adults. These simple patterns are combined to form sophisticated movements, just as words and letters are combined to make sentences
Primitive movement patterns are learned in developmental positions – supine, prone, quadruped and tripod positions, oblique sitting, kneeling, half kneeling, squatting, etc.
These positions offer several potential advantages to a baby and, more importantly, to an adult trying to recover or brush up on such patterns.
Learning developmental movements on the ground means more stability compared with standing postures. On the ground, there are simply less moving parts and therefore fewer variables to control at the same time so fear of falling is removed.
In standing, postural balance requires coordinated activity of the ankles, knees, hips and spine etc. Although most of us are not consciously afraid of falling as we walk or squat, there is always a significant degree of unconscious nervous system activity devoted to preventing such an occurrence.
In a kneeling position, the ankles and feet are taken out of the equation, which simplifies the motor control required for erect posture. The centre of gravity too is lowered closer to the base of support, which increases stability.
Another advantage of developmental positions is that they increase proprioceptive feedback through contact with the floor. For example, it is easier to feel the shape and movement of the spinal curves and ribs while lying on the floor. In standing, this form of feedback is not available.
So, returning to developmental positions is a way to encourage the use of basic movement patterns that may be getting ignored in everyday life.
It’s not a magic bullet of course, or the only way to improve movement, but it is a potentially useful tool.
And it’s why many of us get down to the ground when we want to start moving better and feeling better.