Decoding Animal Flow: Debunking the Mobility Debate

Decoding Animal Flow: Debunking the Mobility Debate

Jun 17, 2024

First things first, to those who might be wondering...

What is Animal Flow?

The way I often like to describe Animal flow to give context is, If Yoga and Breakdancing got together one night and had a baby, they’d give birth to Animal Flow. That being said, Animal Flow is it’s own unique system that enables you the ability to explore the complexities and capability of your body in a fun and engaging way. It’s a quadrupedal (moving on all 4s) movement training practice intended on building strength, “mobility”, coordination and focus. 

Note that I put the word mobility in quotes. There is some heavy debate as to whether or not Animal Flow improves mobility and personally, I think this is where context matters. Mobility can be quite a broad term so we have to first understand what we’re talking about when we say “mobility” Mobility can be defined as “the ability of a joint to move actively and with control throughout its full range of motion.” Now given this description, this falls in line with what we are doing within an animal flow practice (moving actively with control in a full range of motion.) However to quote Dr. Spina (creator of Functional Range Conditioning)

“You cannot move where you cannot move”

This underscores the concept that your ability to move in a certain way is restricted by the existing mobility in that specific area. 

Put simply, if you lack mobility in a joint, you won't be able to perform movements that require range of motion in that particular area. This emphasizes the need for SPECIFIC mobility training to address limitations and enhance overall movement capacity.


Using myself as an example, a specific area of limitation in my animal flow practice is clearly evident in the crab reach. This challenge is from a lack of shoulder extension and various other joint restrictions. While I can still execute the crab reach, it lacks the smoothness and efficiency I aspire to achieve. The body tends to choose the path of least resistance to accomplish a task. Trust me when I say, have practiced many crab reaches over the years as an animal flow instructor and my range of motion (ROM) hasn't seen significant improvement.

The key realization here is that focusing more on joint mobility, specifically addressing and enhancing the range of motion and control in my shoulder extension, could inherently enhance my ability to perform the crab reach more smoothly and efficiently. This highlights the distinction between simply practicing a movement globally (like the crab reach) and targeting joint-specific mobility to address underlying restrictions and improve overall performance.

If your a novice with zero movement background and stiff as a board then embarking in an Animal flow practice will garner adequate improvements in your range of motion, but if you're well verse in movement then Animal Flow is an expression of the mobility you currently have available to you and as you persist in the practice you will only improve the ranges you already have. With all that being said, lets simplify all this with a set of definitions here, Global mobility and Joint mobility

Global Mobility:

Definition: Global mobility refers to the overall ability of the entire body to move through a full range of motion.

Scope: It involves assessing and improving movement patterns, flexibility, and coordination across multiple joints and muscle groups.

Integration: Global mobility takes into account the interconnectedness of various body parts and their ability to function harmoniously during different activities or movements.

Example: A Flowist performing a Animal Flow routine that involves fluid and coordinated movements across the entire body showcases good global mobility. It’s an expression of the movement ability you currently have access to.

Joint Mobility:

Definition: Joint mobility, on the other hand, specifically focuses on the range of motion and flexibility of individual joints.

Scope: It involves assessing and enhancing the movement capabilities of a particular joint or set of joints.

Precision: Joint mobility drills and exercises target specific articulations, aiming to improve the function, flexibility, and health of those particular joints.

Example: Performing wrist CARs to enhance the flexibility and mobility of the wrist joint demonstrates a focus on joint mobility.

Now, don't get me wrong—I absolutely love animal flow. It's an incredible system with numerous benefits. However, like any fitness system, it's not a one-size-fits-all solution that meets the needs of every individual. Specificity is key. If your goal is to run faster, honing in on specific running mechanics is crucial. If you aim to enhance breath-holding capabilities, incorporating specific breathwork exercises is essential. Similarly, when it comes to improving joint mobility for a particular task, the focus should be on targeted exercises addressing specific joints.

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