Movement is something integral to human existence as well as physical performance and health. Health experts continue to remind us that adherence to the mechanics of proper movement is vital to overall health whether we are a weightlifting champion or an average joe. But what exactly is quality movement and can it be defined and understood in a clear cut manner?
Over the past decades, we have been bombarded constantly with videos of movement gurus and experts who claim they know exactly how to move in space to avoid injury and harm. Movement preparation. Movement analysis. Movement screening. This surge in media has come from a ravenous appetite of fitness professionals who are taking the time to think about what should and should not be contained within the spectrum of physical fitness as well as the qualities of proper movement.
Unfortunately, physical culture has always been studied academically on treadmills, bench press barbells, and bikes in sterile scientific environments with athletes. Thus the standards of movement are usually unrealistic and don’t take into account unique individual differences in human anatomy. In real life, movement happens when climbing, running over land, lifting heavy things under fatigue, and doing calisthenics for minutes and minutes on end. The current model of ‘movement’ investigation in a lab doesn’t connect to what was actually being done in the real world of fitness.
In other words, this scientific approach has not taken into account how individualistic movement can be. What constitutes ‘proper’ movement can drastically change from individual to individual.
(Resource: Learn how to assess individual movement in this free 7-day course.)
For example, there still remains, in many iterations, the “pain model” of movement. Whereby, therapy and research into pain and its accompanying pieces have created ideas on what movement “should” or “should not” be. Some of the error resulting in this is a lack of connection to an audience that might not be in pain. Also, pain is a very complicated topic. The model can, therefore, unravel many opportunities for inaccuracies in prescriptions.
A more popular example is the human developmental model of movement analysis, which gets into areas of babies and what they do and need for movement development. It goes on to say that, over time, people can be primed to move better based on these fundamental truths. The only arguable area here is the longitudinal effect that humans can have over time in development. How people derive their patterns of movement can arguably be changed with the new foundation we have in neural development and how the brain can change. This opens up holes in this ‘perfect’ movement model, where humans can change at any point in time in developing new movements, not based on assessing them on how they turned over when they were 6 months old.
Another example is “loaded structural balance” model of movement. In this area, how one moves and lifts a certain load is used to see other areas of lifts and extrapolate ideas on what these “should” be with the idea based on models of strength “balance”. This has errors in understanding the life cycle of the human and how people vary tremendously in their “balance” based on their experience and the strength of their nervous system.
Most novice coaches get hung up determining the function of movement for their client as well as assessing how that particular client moves in relation to their overall goals. Which is why some advocates and trainers alike enjoy the primal aspects of movement analysis. Connecting what we have done for many years and layering that on top of what people’s movement “should” be like. This makes a little sense, as humans do have some basic things that are similar across the board. Another area that makes sense is assessing people where they currently sit and then applying some fitness prescription or movement in relation to their goals. However, it comes back to what you want to do.
As a coach, athlete, or participant you have to ask the following questions in relation to movement;
In short, the finer details and intricacies of movement are more important for athletes than for fitness enthusiasts. Your general fitness enthusiasts, on the other hand, need to focus less on pristine movement mechanics and more on simply movement and moving. However, the right path to determining ‘proper’ movement always starts with assessing how you move and to what purpose movement serves. Learn how to assess this with The Free Coach’s Toolkit.