Human Movement & Function
From birth our bodies adapt in response to the progress of survival demands as we develop through primitive reflex movements. We adapt and learn through success and failure of these movements and we acquire new systems through the perception of repeated successes and failures. All this happens before we can consciously consider or understand incorporated human motion. From rolling to sitting to crawling to standing and walking the positions, postures and movements are refined from fundamental to transitional to functional. Necessity demands this through wants, desires and needs. Childhood ensures that through play we physically respond and change within the circumstances of our environments. However for most of our lifetimes this movement goes unchecked and as we age, culture, society and lifestyle influences can diminish the quality of our motion sequences and patterns that had been naturally established.
Repeated activity on unstable base/incorrect movements/overload of resistance
Sedentary positions for longer
Technology performing tasks we used to perform ourselves
Less physical education at school more focus on sports (hyperspecialisation)
Increased opportunity for travel and therefore travel positions.
Addressing injury/pain/dysfunction in isolation of symptom treatment & pain relief
With further time our lifestyle demands involve less physicality and we can suffer the negative effects. We are advised to replace loss of lifestyle demands with exercise. However exercise requires but does not guarantee quality of precision movement and often is prescribed and performed with limited consideration to the importance of integrated motion efficacy. Successful physical motion is an essential prerequisite to exercise challenges and performance in order to achieve goals and prevent injury. To master any new activity requires learning, we begin with the fundamentals and progress as we earn the necessary skills. Movement and function is no different, we must follow the exact same principles to acquire optimal motion.
Optimising movement requires effective understanding, awareness and control of the neuromuscular system. How we learn to effectively control corrected movement should be the priority. The mechanical use of alignments, sensations, perceptions and engagement to movement is the bedrock to change. If our exercise goals are engineered towards maximal physical competency and not just aesthetic sculpting, isolated strength, numbers, data or images, then we can maintain proficient movement and function as well as attaining these other goals. We have to acknowledge and address how we move before moving forward. It’s an approach in the conscious thinking of how we move, how our bodies perform basic daily tasks and the human engineering that is involved. Perceptions and understanding of movement are programmed through the practiced repetition of the mechanical ideals of position and alignment, ROM, muscle balance, activation, synergy and control whilst performed through load.
Just as our aims/goals/targets differ so too will what we need to do to improve our individual movement strategies. Whatever the exercise goal it requires effective alignment and movement patterns specific to each individual. Mobility, flexibility, resistance, strength and conditioning training, aerobic challenges and competitive/professional sports, all require optimal movement and positioning processes to enable peak performance. Whatever the daily activity, its performance contributes towards movement capabilities. Competent movement enhances functionality and poor movement contributes to deterioration. Correct before we condition. Before we begin exercise, first learn how we move. If you don’t set the foundations exercise can’t be performed correctly and risks injury but guarantees unfulfilled potential. True training and conditioning is as much about learning to understand how we perform the physical task as it is about energy expenditure. Exercising on an incorrect movement base will only fortify the dysfunction. When you restore position you restore function and when you improve position you improve function.
Part of any professionals role is pattern recognition. As health professionals we therefore specialise in patterns of movement and motion for function. Physiotherapists involved in the rehabilitation of physical dysfunction and pain aspire to achieve the optimal biomechanics to restore pain free movement. However it is not only those injured that can benefit. Everyone can improve their movement systems for better performance, injury prevention and sustaining a lengthy and healthy lifestyle.