Movement is ingrained from the first year of life and yet many of us have problems getting around without pain — why do our bodies fail us?
Efficient movement without injury should be one of the primary goals of any exercise program. Over the past 100 years this is has been more and more of a challenge due to the influence of new technology making our lifestyles more sedentary.
Along the lifecycle, our movements may become inhibited, eventually causing injury. Poor posture, constant sitting and repetitive faulty mechanics are partly responsible for this change. The sooner we fix these issues, though, the easier it is to bounce back on the road to proper movement.
When do we begin learning how to move correctly? The answer: from the moment we are born.
Infants learn to move correctly by trial and error. A newborn first uses eye movement and neck movement. They will then progress to rolling, sitting, sitting with support from one arm, crawling and eventually supported kneeling and standing. Each phase earned establishes the needed coordination and strength in our core and extremities to progress to the next level.
It is important that these developmental phases are not disturbed. Baby walkers, bouncers and other assistance devices may cause problems in developmental movement learning because they allow the body to progress too quickly. This does not mean you can’t use them, but it is important for their development that you don’t use them all the time.
Gray Cook, a well-known movement specialist said: “A baby must earn the right to walk.” If they don’t, they won’t have the proper coordination and strength to accomplish the next phase of movement correctly, and as a result, they may compensate with other muscles and joints.
The Functional Movement Screen (FMS) is a tool that many fitness experts use to screen for faulty movement issues. With this tool, they can identify faulty movements and make corrections.
For instance, when doing a squat, we should be symmetrical. If you tend to shift your weight to one side or twist when squatting, this would be an issue. One way of fixing this, if you don’t have a specialist, is to realize it exists. Use a mirror or camcorder to look at your squat from the front and back. Draw a horizontal line from directly between your heels. If this line does not center between your hips, spine and head, then you have a symmetrical issue in your squat form. By consciously thinking about this, you may be able to correct it. If any pain occurs when correcting your squat, it would be better to seek out a professional.
When looking at the squat movement from the side, your spine should have the same curve that it has when standing upright as long as you have good posture to begin with. Essentially your back should not look like a turtle shell. There should be a straight line from the back of your hip to the back of your head. If you have hip mobility issues, this may not be the case.
Since we are sitting often, our hip muscles can shorten and become tight. This prevents us from moving from the hip when we squat and forces us to use our spine instead, and as a result we round our back/spine to bend down.
There are many movements that the human body is capable of as long as the joints that are supposed to be moving move correctly. The ankle, hip and shoulder should be the primary sources of movement in the body. The spine should be able to stabilize in order to support these movements.
This common theme is ingrained from the first year we were born and our goal should be to maintain these proper movements.
Ted Santaniello, CSCS, is a certified personal trainer and the fitness manager at the Wellness Center at PARC, located at 295 New York Road (next to ARC) in Plattsburgh. For more information, call him at 324-2024.