Science Base Overview

A comprehensive Science Base for the GravityFit Exercise Model has been written by Dr Carolyn Richardson, and forms the basis of the Level 2A - Core Body Benchmark Course.

Below is an overview of this Science Base.


SECTION 1:  Introduction to ‘Gravity’ Fitness and the GravityFit Exercise Model

This section introduces GravityFit, its development and takes a high level look at the Principles behind it.

    • An overview of the importance of ‘Gravity’ Fitness
    • An introduction to Gravitational Physiology and links with the Space Industry
    • An overview of the principles of exercise for the GravityFit Exercise Model
    • Explanation of the subsections for the scientific base


SECTION 2:  Gravitational ‘Bone, Joint and Muscle’ Physiology


Part 2A    The Evolution of Bipedalism - Effects of ‘loading’ the musculoskeletal system for human bipedalism in Earth’s Gravity

This section explains that, for our upright posture in Earth’s Gravity, we have a ‘whole body’ framework of Anti-Gravity muscles, with the core muscles most important, to function as springs to protect our joints from injuries caused by the high impact forces caused by gravity. This function is assisted in the spine by intervertebral disc to absorb impact loads to protect the vunerable structures of the spine.

    • A study of the evolution of bipedalism
    • The weightbearing mechanisms of the lumbo-pelvic region.
    • Evidence of the link between the Core muscles and the Anti-Gravity muscles of the spine and lower limb.
    • Summary contribution of the ‘Evolution of Bipedalism’ to the GFEM


Part 2B   Basic Gravitational Physiology Research - The effects of ‘unloading’ the musculoskeletal system: Laboratory based research

This section explains how ‘unloading’ the body (or parts) reduces  Gravitational Load Cues (Sensory Information) to the joints leading to a neuroplasticity of the nervous system. This results in deterioration of ONLY the Anti-Gravity Body Framework of muscles, with resulting ’ muscle imbalances’ formed around the ‘weightbearing  joints. This is why ‘unloading’ the body leads to wear and tear and joint injury.

    • Basic Gravitational Physiology research on animals in laboratory settings.
    • Human Research  on unloading the lower limb with rapid ballistic movement
    • Summary contribution to the Gravity Fit Exercise Model


Part 2C Human Space Research - The effects of ‘unloading’ the musculoskeletal system IN MICROGRAVITY

This section explains that the Anti-Gravity Body Framework is weakened in zero Gravity (microgravity) and ‘ muscle imbalances’ are formed, leading to a loss of spinal posture and painful  joint problems (e.g. osteoarthritis) on return to Earth. This weakness of the framework is also related to a loss of bone density (osteopororis), and pelvic floor problems. The spinal Anti-Gravity muscles are most affected by the unloading of the whole body, and this is accompanied by rapid and persistent problems developing in the intervertebral discs. The type of exercise used to counteract this weakness developing in the Anti-Gravity Body Framework of muscles  is also considered.

    • Observational studies on Astronauts after extended periods in microgravity
    • Research studies on healthy people recruited for the Bedrest studies
    • Countermeasures designed to minimise muscle and bone loss in Astronauts  and Space travellers (i.e. Weightbearing exercise and Whole Body Vibration)
    • Summary of how Space Research has contributed to the GFEM


Part 2D  Relevance to Bone and Joint Health on Earth

This section explains that there are many reasons why, when we live in Gravity, the natural Anti-Gravity Body Framework (which is optimal in most underdeveloped countries) breaks down with our modern lifestyles with the formation of ‘muscle imbalances’ and subsequent bone and joint problems. People in the modern world have no understanding of what the Anti-Gravity Body Framework is, how important it is and what aspects of their lifestyle are causing its rapid decline and leading to major medical problems.

The deterioration of the Anti-Gravity Body Framework with modern lifestyles is discussed in relation to

    • poor spinal posture
    • incorrect exercises used to activate the Core muscles during exercise
    • Reduced Gravitational Load Cues through wearing shoes and avoiding soft uneven, sloping surfaces
    • The continuous cycle of  ‘unloading’ of the body in sedentary people
    • Severe muscle imbalances are developing in very active people
    • Inhibition of the Anti-Gravity Body Framework occurring due to the inflammation/pain resulting from any acute injury or surgery.


SECTION 3: The GravityFit Exercise Model is based on a ‘Sensory- Motor’ exercise approach

This section explains the refinements required for the ‘sensory motor’ approach to exercise to develop the principles of exercise for the GravityFit Exercise Model.


SECTION 4: Appendices

Appendix 1  Scientific publications  -  C.A Richardson PhD

Appendix 2 Therapeutic Exercise for Spinal Segmental Stabilization in Low Back Pain, Churchill Livingstone, Edinburgh 1999 (out of print)

Chapter 6  General Considerations in motor control and joint stabilization (including ‘Links beteen joint stabilization, muscle stiffness and kinaesthetic sense; ‘Fast ballistic movement and joint stabilisation and full reference list)

Appendix 3  Proceedings of the Tenth International Confederation for Physical Therapy,  Sydney Australia 1987. ‘Atrophy of vastus medialis in patella-femoral syndrome’ C.A Richardson.

Appendix 4 Proceedings of the European Symposium on ‘Life in Space for Life on Earth’

C.A Richardson an invited speaker ‘The Health of the Human Skeletal System for Weightbearing against Gravity’

Appendix 5 An overview of the science behind Whole Body Vibration (WBV) C.A Richardson.

WBV is based on space science and was used as the countermeasure exercise for ESAs Berlin bedrest Study.