How many people do you know who are unable to touch their toes? In fact, you should try it yourself – can you touch your toes? This is a basic movement pattern that we should all be able to perform unless of course there is some structural abnormality preventing us from doing so. What if you were a football or tennis player with this limitation? Would this increase your risk of injury or could it be having an impact on your performance?
Good movement quality means that you have the ability to perform basic movement patterns that require stability (motor control) and mobility from the trunk to the extremities. Therefore, lack of stability and/or mobility can increase your risk of injury or limit performance.
Let’s put it into an everyday context. Consider this:
You reach to pull a glass from the cupboard, but you do not have enough thoracic (mid-spine) mobility to reach it. Our bodies will find a way to make up for a limitation like this. In face, the body compensates using more range of motion from other body parts to achieve the desired movement.
Now, consider this:
What if this ‘compensation’ was repeated 1,000s of times over the course of a lifetime? I’d say something has to give – maybe the shoulder.
Now, let’s put it into a sports’ context. Before participating in sport, good movement quality is essential. With it, you can begin to load appropriately to develop strength and power to improve performance. Without it, you can be in real trouble.
What happens if an athlete with limited ankle range of motion is asked to perform a squat? It is an awkward undertaking for sure; the body must lean forward from the waist to center the weight, which in turn, adds more stress to the lower back. Again, eventually something has to give. But what will it be this time?
We should encourage people to work smarter not harder by stressing the importance of a solid foundation: good movement quality.
Recently, I attended a great workshop in Saco, Maine that has been on my list for a few years. Instructed by Brett Jones RKC, CSCS, the Functional Movement Screen has been a “go to” series of movement assessments that when scored, determine your risk of injury. Many athletic teams – on the professional and collegiate levels – have been using this screen for the past several years.
Brett Jones RKC, CSCS – core activation.