Friday, July 20, 2012

Mobility as the foundation

Sometimes when we initiate a rehabilitation plan with a new patient one of the first questions that is asked is "why do I have to stretch so often?" and a question that is often thought but not asked is "what's with the emphasis on flexibility?" Well, the long and short of it is that we know that quality movement, movement that is efficient and uncompensated, is the holy grail of painfree physical function. Quality movement is the construct of 3 main principles that build upon each other:
1) mobility
2) neuromuscular activation
3) motor control
We start with such an emphasis on mobility, flexibility, range of motion, etc because, without out it you allow the movement system (i.e. your body) to compensate and therefore, move incorrectly. This reduces the effectiveness of the body to stabilize properly. Incorrect movement and improper stability leads to injury.
To further drive home this point about why mobility comes first, think about a baby for moment. We come into this world with ultimate flexibility. Floppy bundles with unparalleled range of motion. Over the coming months and years we develop muscle strength and neural networks to improve our ability to be stable and move a limb through space. Now that Principles 1 and 2 are in place, thousands of hours of practice create a movement system (you) that now has motor control (#3). And, if we think about the myriad ways a child or adolescent moves through the world with grace, joy, and efficiency (dancing, monkey bars, soccer, etc), its a marvel to wonder where it all goes when we get older. Well, for some reason, we stop moving or, at best, narrow our focus down to one specific movement pattern that we master, such as running, golf, throwing a baseball. A few of us can even make a nice living being an expert at just one way of moving. But there's a price.
Unfortunately, the foundation of quality movement is lost. We lack variability, we stop challenging our boundaries, we stiffen up in areas we don't use, and we lose the mobility we once had. But, all is not lost. The expert movement analysts at Eugene Physical Therapy are skilled at observing how you are moving, breaking it down into its component parts, and first and foremost, restoring that mobility that made you such a whiz at movement long ago.
I'll leave you with this wonderful example of someone who has made the choice long ago to continue to move, well, like a kid.

When you make the choice to go to Physical Therapy, you are making a choice to move better, with more range of motion, more efficiency and power, and with less pain.
See you soon!