So, all of the information that I have discussed regarding movement competency is admittedly basic and not fully sufficient. It is, however, foundational. Beyond that, the concepts remain important aspects of our overall ability to function free of limitations or compensations. I have attempted to provide pictures and descriptions of movement patterns that we all should be able to accomplish 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6. I have also tried to give some thoughts and ideas of how to achieve these. If you cannot complete an entire pattern (that requires motor control, stability, mobility – all in a coordinated sequence), attempt to break it down. Can you do so in an unweighted/unloaded manner? Can you complete components of the movement by breaking down the segments of that movement by body part or region of the body being used? Use these concepts to find out where you may be limited.
I will say, though, we are greater than the sum of our parts. This oversimplification of mobility is a disservice to the complexity of the human body and the interworkings of the musculoskeletal system. It can be VERY effective, however, when you are truly limited. It is also important for me to say that movement patterns are not the only thing to look at, but they should be the first thing looked at. Gray Cook lays out 5 principles of functional movement:
1) Basic bodyweight movement patterns should NOT provoke pain
2) Excessive limitation in these movement patterns lead to compensations or substitutions, even in the absense of pain
3) Movement patterns that involve right and left should be mostly symmetrical – these patterns are not skill-based or a result of handedness
4) Fundamental movement competency should come BEFORE performance-based activities or complex skill training
As you can see, not being able to achieve the foundational movement patterns is a big deal. It is also the reason we break them down to smaller parts and attempt to figure out the deficits. Now, if you can move appropriately in all of the segmented or unweighted broken-down manners but not throughout the entire movement pattern, this indicates you likely have an underlying stability/motor control deficit. That makes sense, right. You clearly cannot be stuck anywhere if you show adequate mobility in each part of the movement pattern, but cannot put it all together. Therefore, you MUST be moving compensatorily. This is likely a result of muscles that should be allowing your body to move but are actually holding on in attempts to provide your body with some sort of stability. Again, I am making the assumption pain is not limiting you – pain alters movement in unpredictable ways. As such, pain must never be moved into with activity or exercises, and should be addressed by a qualified healthcare professional.
So, please consider the importance of moving well in all you do. Use these movement patterns as strategies to assess yourself. Move better!