What does it Mean to Improve our Movement?

Our bodies have evolved in a remarkable way. You only have to log onto YouTube, or even just take a walk to the local park to see some phenomenal feats of movement.

But are these things really as superhuman as they seem?

Perhaps they are closer to what nature intended for us than the average state of the human form we see today.

A closer look at the our anatomy, as well as evidence of how humans lived before the snowballing of conveniences and technology reveals that our bodies are designed to be extremely versatile, allowing us to run, jump, climb, throw, accelerate, decelerate, adapt and improvise our movements quickly and randomly.

If people are capable of such staggering things, it seems a shame that most of us only access a tiny fraction of what we could do.

We’re not suggesting everybody should be a gymnast or an acrobat, but since movement is good for our health in so many ways, why not use a bit more of it?!

So, what does it actually mean to move well, or to be closer to our physical potential?

What this boils down to is two fundamental concepts:

1) The body moves in 3 dimensions

 

Life is three dimensional, we can’t walk down the street, tie our shoelaces, or put on a seatbelt, without having to manage our body in three dimensional space.

There is nothing linear about the way our bodies are set up anatomically, which makes it surprising how two dimensional many gym exercises are.  Even today, strict guidelines such as knees not passing the toes , ‘neutral spine’ or the knee tracking over the second toe are quite common.

Sometimes these cues may be applicable, but they are often given as a general ‘safety’ measure without thought of preparing and reinforcing our bodies for real life activities.

This video demonstrates well that even hinge like joints such as the knee require the ability to manage all sorts of irregular directions and forces, and you also see the importance of the hips and feet above and below in slowing down motion and helping them out.

Three planes of motion

 

You may hear us repeatedly refer to the three planes of motion, so here’s a quick explanation:

We describe three dimensional movements as: forwards and backwards in the sagital plane, from side to side in the frontal plane (moving side to side as if you’re between two window panes) , and finally and very importantly we rotate in the transverse plane.

The transverse plane is often neglected in training, even though it’s the least accessed in day to day particularly in more sedentary individuals, since it’s not loaded by gravity as directly as the other 2 planes.

The orientation of our muscles, in particular some very powerful ones such as the Glutes, abdominal obliques and Latissimus Dorsae is a massive clue that nature intended us to own multidirectional motion, and also come in handy for cross body patterns such as running or throwing, which are propelled by an oppposing rotation of the upper and lower body.

2) Our bodies share our motion in Patterns

 

The joints of the human body have specific roles, and as an indication of movement possibilities, the human foot alone has 33!

When we move, We have the ability to share motion between all of our joints or body segments, and in doing so we also take advantage of their specific shapes, and the elastic properties of the muscles and soft tissues that cross them.

If there’s too little motion, or a lack of stability (too much motion) at certain joints, other structures may be called upon more than necessary.

When we are functioning well, sharing of motion throughout our bodies is our greatest weapon for power production, efficient transitions, and also for the protection of the physical structures of our skeleton and joints.

As trainers and therapist we’re not looking to micromanage movement, but attention to the detail within allows us to ensure that all available segments are contributing to movement patterns.

Summary

Learning to move three dimensionally and sharing motion between our joints can lead to better movement transitions, lesssen repetitive stresses, create a healing environment and improve rhythm in motion.

These fundamental principles are key in assessing and planning strategies for change, as well as giving a common ground between practitioners, allowing the Trainers and Therapists at Joint Dynamics to communicate effectively with our patients and clients.

Keep an eye out for our intelligent movement series, where we will share our insights on some of the key areas of the body, as well as some fascinating and useful training concepts.