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Know what your body does

By Salman siddiquePublished about a year ago 8 min read

Have you ever wondered how some people can throw, or hit a ball further or run faster than stronger competitors? Or have you been stretching religiously for a long time, without a lasting change in your flexibility? Maybe you can remember visiting a therapist for a back problem, and been perplexed by their interest in your feet, hips or other areas of your body far from the site of pain?

In either case, it's important for us to realise that the different areas of our bodies are never alone in movement.

If we don't move regularly and in a variety of ways, our bodies have the ability to contain us in a smaller space, in an attempt to keep us safe.

Today's post will explain:

What really happens when we move

How seemingly unrelated parts of our bodies can have close relationships in motion

Why these relationships are the key to understanding movement

How to apply this knowledge in order to boost your performance

What happens when We Move?

When we move a part of our body, the rest of us moves too. Whenever you make a movement, even if it's a subtle as turning your head, you are likely to turn your shoulders, hips, and the motion will find its way down to your feet, and even your toes.

Although we can say that everything in the body is connected during movement, it's also useful to think of our bodies in separate parts, that move in sequence.

Areas of the body that are mapped out by joints are sometimes referred to as segments. Within movement patterns there are changes in the space between these segments, and since our muscles cross these spaces (our joints), they will stretch and load any time there this relative motion.

When we talk about sequences of movement, all we are saying is that one Segment moves in space, followed by the next, and then the next one, and so on. Movement is shared between joints, muscles are loaded, and this allows each joint to contribute to an overall effect.

Real Life movements occur in PATTERNS

In movement, our body has a number of ingenious ways of creating resources to power its movement. Areas of our bodies will work together to create an effect that is much greater than the sum of its parts.

Although the body is more likely to 'think' in whole movements, referring to the actions of joints and muscles is the easiest way to put these relationships into words.

Here are some examples of how different muscles can be related to each other in motion:

Muscles in close proximity, that do a similar job

Muscles with opposite roles

Functional- Muscles in different areas of the body that act at the same time or in series

Muscles that provide general stability during a movement

Tensegrity- The properties of our soft tissues can provide mechanical links within the body

Continuous patterns, one phase of a movement may have knock on effect on subsequent phases. Eg Gait

Understanding how things are linked within patterns is very important, because it can give us clues about how to assess each area of the body in order to improve whole movements.

Making these connections within movements gives us new references and leads that can help us solve movement problems.

In gait, we see that that the calf muscle can be linked to the hip flexor muscles of the same leg, and the front of the opposite shoulder, since they load at the same time in the rear foot part of gait.

In sports such as golf, we might consider improved foot function, to allow better rotation in our attempts to drive the ball further.

We may stop blaming 'bad' joints, and view them as heroes that may be holding things together because of reduced function elsewhere in the body.

When different motions are linked, they are generally trying to assist each other, or are working as a team for a common goal. If one thing stops doing its job, something else may be picking up the pieces. If were lucky, this can lead to decreased performance, if were unlucky, pain or injury.

When you know how patterns occur, you can see how different areas of the body are linked together, and how to progress intelligently towards new skills.

Different types of Movement Patterns

Single Movements

Everyday movements such as putting our socks on or reaching for a seatbelt require certain ranges of motion. They start with an intent to reach or move a part of our body from A to B. Each of our joints has a certain range to offer, and the motion is shared out accordingly. Since joints have evolved for specific roles, it's important for each of them to do their bit, to avoid overflow of unwanted motion. This becomes more important in Dynamic Movements.

Dynamic Movements

Our myofascial systems can actually store and then utilise 'free energy' in the process of movement sequences. This is because the elastic properties of our muscles can produce a recoil effect. Since muscles are loaded in changes in the space between segments, our movement is fueled by our bodies' ability to distribute motion well.

Our myofacial system fuels movement, but movement in turn fuels the myofacial system.

Most movements have a greater emphasis on the eccentric, or lengthening phase of muscle actions. These may consist of 2 or more phases, such as a backswing and downswing in golf. In this case, performance occurs mainly in the downswing, or hitting area, but this could not happen well without the loading of muscles in the backswing.

All dynamic movements have their own version of a 'backswing', which is a key factor in performance and protection from injury. Dynamic movements are part of life, especially in sport, but in less functional bodies they can carry a greater risk.

When we are trying to create power in dynamic movements, it generally involves our upper and lower body working together. We often use cross body patterns, when we create power from a counter rotation between the two. The muscles that link our upper and lower bodies are therefore very important in sports performance. This is one reason why core training gets so much press.

Muscles that cross our hips and the middle of our bodies can protect the areas in their immediate surroundings, but also contribute to the deceleration of distal (further from pelvis) structures. When we think about movement in patterns, we are able to make links, and we see that good hip and core function are important in assisting deceleration, and can actually prevent problems in elbows, knees, and even ankles or wrists.

Continuous Patterns

Dynamic Movement patterns often occur in continuous phases. Therefore, the quality of one link in the chain can effect the body immediately, or lead to an adjustment in the next phase, or cycle of motion. Walking or running involve a continuous blend of motions, known as gait cycles.

If somebody happened to stub their toe, they may find a temporary solution during the 'rear foot' part of the gait cycle (when the toe would feel the greatest pressure), and in trying to work around, or over the injured toe, could have an effect on the onward journey of the opposite leg.

If we take a snapshot in time, losing range of motion in the big toe could lead to limited ankle dorsiflexion, same side hip extension, contra lateral rotation of the spine, and limited loading of the shoulder joint. By affecting associated movements, limited motion in one segment can suck the life out of a cyclical pattern like gait.

Why does Understanding Movement Patterns help You?

Everyone can benefit from understanding movement patterns. If you want to perform better, or if you have unexplained aches and pains, consider the fact that there might be resources in your body that you are not taking advantage of. Adjust your training method to teach your body to live more happily in its surroundings. Consult a good trainer, preferably one that specialises in movement.

Educate yourself, perhaps take a short course to give you ideas, and learn some of the fundamentals of movement. If you're already quite athletic and are interested in learning how to do spectacular things with movement, there are incredible resources online that give you actual progressions to do so!

Main points:

All movements and activities occur in patterns, and the efficiency of movement patterns depends on the quality of the relative motion throughout the body segments contained within them.

Patterns are a big deal, because they allow us to explain why individual parts of our bodies are not alone in movement, performance or painful conditions.

Good function makes the things we do safer, easier and metabolically cheaper. An appreciation of patterns can allow us to access this in our training.

Your body is pretty clever- Chances are that if you move it a lot, it will figure our a way to improve. The more new movements you make, the more it will learn, and the more resources it will have to call upon in the future.

A Parting Thought

In the realm of therapy and sports performance, it can be hard to communicate since many of the various thought processes require so much time and dedication. People are reluctant to entertain new paradigms since it could mean a significant overhaul of their current approach.

Knowledge of Movement Patterns could be the best way to bridge the gap in communication between therapists, and also between patient/client and practitioner.


About the Creator

Salman siddique

Hello Everyone!

I write interesting stories

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