Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Learning Movement Fundamentals: ABC’s and Basic Vocabulary

If you sit at the mall or the airport for a while, you will observe many different bodies moving about in various ways. All accomplish the same task; some more efficiently and effectively than others. You wonder how some survive. Observe the asymmetries. Observe the postural changes gravity has affected. Keep in mind that many of these people have no idea what they look like when they are moving, nor do they easily perceive their body in space—that their torso is flexed forward, their feet shuffle, their knees hyperextend, one hip drops more than the other with each step, they lean their torso to one side to compensate for weak hip musculature.

Good, fundamental movement patterns are not a given for most adults and for many kids. I say most, not all. Many people would benefit from basic instruction in fundamental movements and how the body works most efficiently. It is like learning and practicing your ABC’s in grade school. You learn to print and write cursive. Then you learn to spell and develop a basic vocabulary. With this movement vocabulary, the athlete then expresses his or her creativity and sport skill via writing beautiful compositions. No two are exactly alike, but the trained eye sees the basic building blocks. Sometimes you have to go back and review the abc’s, vocabulary or fine tune some grammar, if there is an injury or a technique glitch.

The average person or the recreational athlete usually needs a bit more help with these fundamental movement building blocks. By actively teaching these building blocks, we help these people move well and avoid compensatory movements, maladaptive shortening (strengthening) or lengthening (weakening) of muscles and finally, injury. Unfortunately, the typical physical therapist doesn’t get to see these people until all of the compensatory changes have taken hold and the injury causes significant pain, impairment and possibly surgery.

My goal is to teach people their movement ABC’s and vocabulary from the beginning. Now how to do it without some silly gimmick or absurd promise of an ultra sexy body? Hmmm……


climber511 said...

Tracy - is there any place someone can learn the basics to help/evaluate themselves? Short of getting a doctorate degree or spending a fortune visiting those who have them? I'm thinking of a resource like a book or video one might buy that leads you thru some testing and evaluations.
Chris Rice

Jerimiah said...

Good post, and you are right teaching the basic's is never "sexy" which makes it so difficult.

pjnathan said...

Excellent post. I've been watching people in the street, the mall, etc. and try to imagine moving like that. Painful, restricted, and sensorily reduced. I've been teaching movement for 20+ years, and although retraining fundamental movment patterns can help the motivated, I think most movement has been modelled subconsciously at very early age. Those movement patterns rarely change (much).
Also, you say the typical pt doesen't see these potential train wrecks until thier function is comprimised. I don't think the typical pt would help these people because the typical pt's movement sense is not that great. Most pts can test muscles, measure rom, give the person a pathology to hold on to, and write ex rx's, but can they feel the whole movement?
What to do? Have parents that move, and children that enjoy moving. Bring back daily phys ed. Encourage kids to run, jump, climb without adult direction. Drive less, walk more.

Thats all for now.

Rob said...

I think your statement that "many people would benefit from basic instruction in fundamental movements and how the body works most efficiently" is our( PT's, trainers, coaches, teachers etc.) challenge. I have been thinking that "a Summit" of practitioners who believe that this is important to our future-- that it is our responsibility to teach these ABC's in a consistent and responsible manner-- would be a great idea. This Summit would include Vern, you (Tracy), Joe P. etc. other leaders in the field who could come to a coherent and basic agreement on ideas of what and how to disseminate the ABC's and love of movement. As a trainer, I would pay good money to be a part of something this big. Hell, I'll work to organize it! Rob Machiorlete

The Iron Maven said...


You are welcome to email me if you like.