Movement Quality and Compensation

Movement QualityAs humans, we have all mastered one thing in regard to motor control and function – compensation – not exactly the greatest when we talk about movement quality.  We will develop a motor strategy and pattern to accomplish our goals, regardless of wether or not it is efficient.  Many probably consider this a positive trait, but not for those of us that emphasize human performance enhancement.

Can’t extend your hip with your glutes?  Oh well, I guess you have to use your hamstrings more.

Is your rotator cuff torn?  Shoulder stiff?  Well, guess what?  You are still going to figure out a way to reach up and grab something overhead.  Perhaps you will wing your scapula more or contort your spine to accomplish this range of motion, it doesn’t matter exactly what, but you WILL find a way to accomplish this task.

This is even more obvious when we start to talk about those that use their bodies to it’s highest potential, such as athletes.  It seems like athletes can adapt to things like fatigue, tightness, and weakness and still develop a motor strategy to perform successfully.  Perhaps this is what makes them the elite athlete, the ability to compensate better than everyone else!

[box]We have all probably been guilty of getting caught up in worrying about the quantity of movement instead of the quality of movement when looking for dysfunction.  [/box]

Every motion has a group of prime movers and a group of secondary movers.  This is important so that if you have dysfunction of one muscle, you can compensate and still function.  But don’t forget that sometimes our job is to activate that prime mover and get back to efficient movement patterns, focusing on restoring the quality of the movement.

FMS gray cook DVDIf you are interested in this kind of thought process, be sure to check out Gray Cook’s new DVD FMS: Applying the Model to Real Life Examples from Perform Better.  I just ordered a copy and haven’t had a chance to check it out, but it sounds excellent as usual from Gray.  I’ll try to post a review of the DVD after I get a chance to watch it.

Sometimes our goal is not to just see IF a person can move from point A to point B, but rather to see HOW a person performs this task. Keep this in the back of your mind with every person you work with and you’ll gain a new appreciation of performance enhancement.


2 replies
  1. Lenny
    Lenny says:

    This is an interesting concept that I am beginning to use more in my practice. I work in a fast paced clinic where I don’t necessarily have time to check out every little detail. Just finished the SFMA course this past weekend and it really made me see things in a new perspective…just need the time to incorporate this new idea to my overall patient evaluations. Clinicians shouldn’t always assume that their patients have a mobility issue because it just may be a stability issue that is not allowing for normal mobility to occur. My 2 cents…

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