It’s interesting to see how the field of fitness training, physical therapy, and sports performance all comes down to being a kid again. When I am looking to build a program for a new client or working with a patient no matter his/her age I look to see if the individual is able to master the most basic developmental movement patterns. Can the person perform a yoga cobra and keep their head up, roll from front to back and how do they perform the movement, sit with the legs out and still have mobility, squat, walk or run smoothly, kick with a fluid motion, and use their upper extremities in a skilled manner. This may seem a little odd to think I would have clients practice rolling or crawling but all these movement patterns are the foundation of all activity and as we become older we lose the ability to perform them well or even at all.
Research on the developmental phases of motor movement patterns in children the authors break down the movement patterns into primitive and skilled categories. The primitive movement patterns according to the authors are gross motor control (the recruitment of large groups of muscle to perform a task) that is not segmental in nature. The movement task is accomplished by recruiting all the muscles say for example in rolling, all at once leading to a very rigid movement. This is later followed by the development of skilled movement patterns where the movement is done in a segmental pattern resulting in a very fluid and smooth motion. This fluidity of motion allows for more control, saves energy, and allows for the development of more advanced movement patterns. It is when we become adults and do not perform the basic movement patterns on a regular basis we become more rigid and move in a more primitive movement pattern.
This regression of sorts becomes a very big problem and is the basis of most chronic and traumatic injuries. We lose the ability squat yet ask the body to do activities that require the fundamental skilled movement mastery of a squat. We ask the body to walk or run yet we have lost the skilled mastery of fluid walking and running patterns. We have our bodies do all sorts of dynamic movements but without the ability to perform the most basic movement patterns to support the high demands we put on the body’s structural support system. This would explain why orthopedic injuries are so prevalent in society with adults. We lose the ability to move efficiently generating lots of wear and tear through rigid bracing and allowing forces generated in movement patterns to not be absorbed properly.
So, if you are looking to start a new workout program or are currently active and are having constant flare ups of random pains see a qualified physical therapist, athletic trainer, or allied health professional that can guide you through a motor developmental sequence. Be a kid again and you will be amazed on how much more fun and success you get out of your workout programs.