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Putting the “Dynamic” into Dynamic Neuromuscular Assessment – DNA

While manual muscle testing can be a powerful tool, movement is infinitely variable.  Because manual muscle testing attempts to put movement into a confined box with fixed positions, it has limitations. I have a problem with classical conventions that say “this movement is xyz muscle.”  Muscles do not work in isolation. Muscles work synergistically with bones, joints, ligaments, tendons, muscles, fascia, and skin. We can isolate movement; we cannot isolate structure.

 

The idea that if you put the body in a specific position you are testing xyz muscle is limiting. Some 15+ years ago I was seeing a Physical Therapist for a shoulder injury. My colleague brought out a two volume encyclopedia of manual muscle tests. Each muscle had three divisions. Each division had three positions: open, closed, and middle. That equates to nine possibilities to assess a particular muscle in the structure.

 

In the assessment process of DNA™, we take the process a step further. Instead of merely taking a “snap shot” of movement, we assess the complete “movie” of movement.

 

Movement has three components of players. One side of the tissues are in concentric action. This is the work production phase. The other side are the tissues that are lengthening. This is the eccentric phase of movement. This is often referred as the deceleration phase of movement. The third aspect of movement are the stabilizers that provide support for the movement. This is analogous to isometric movement though it is dynamic in application.

 

These three aspects of movement form a dynamic triangle that can respond to a changing environment. For example, the core subsystem in the Lateral Kinetic Chain creates a dynamic triangle that supports the pelvis/lumbar. The lateral hip stabilizers, adductors, and the opposite quadratus lumborum work together synergistically to maintain an upright axis of the spine when load bearing in the stance phase of gait.

 

Would you like to learn this paradigm shift in movement assessment? Please join us at a DNA™ seminar.

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Integrating Somatics on Retreat

If you’ve never gone on a silent solo meditation retreat, you might wonder why anyone would do this.  There are many good reasons, but for the purpose of this blog, self-exploration is the focus.  For me, this means exploring the somatics of the body in relationship to contemplation and my mind.

I am just back from a nearly two-week solo meditation retreat at Cochise Stronghold Retreat. Cochise Stronghold is in the Chiricahua Mountains Range in southeastern Arizona. This area is rich with history. The Chiricahua Mountains are rugged granite crags above the Sonora desert. Filled with cactus, stinging insects and reptiles, and plants wearing heavy-armor, rugged is an understatement. This range was home to the Chiricahua Apache Native Americans.

This particular section of the Dragoon Mountains is where Chief Cochise held off the US Calvary during the mid-1800’s.  The famous Geronimo was the right arm of Chief Cochise. Geronimo, a notoriously tough warrior, learned his landscape navigational skills amid the granite crags of Cochise Stronghold. During my daily hikes I would go off trail and imagine the kinds of rites of passage the Apache warriors might have engaged in that developed their skills to survive in this unforgiving magnificent land.

This section of the Sonoran desert is particularly wonderful for a meditation retreat. Cochise Stronghold Retreat is located on a canyon floor. The rugged skyline of granite peaks cap the spectacular view, contrasting against the deep blue sky. This area is famous for a rugged style of rock climbing that has roots in traditional ethics – meaning bold, ground up style of climbing that is rich with adventure and exposure.

I also like my retreats in bold style. This retreat I focused on somatics by immersing myself in kinesthetic and sensory awareness. The days were filled with a rich sensory environment. The mental heavy lifting was in the evening.

My retreat schedule had a “retreat-light” kind of regimen – opting for plenty of rest and relaxation — though the immersion was anything but light. My morning practices were indoors in the silence of my own mind. The afternoons I went outside for long hikes, easy bouldering, and some shop work as my seva (service) project.

Through the lens of somatics, I supercharged the classic four positions of meditation: seated, standing, walking, and lying-down.

I started with movement preliminaries. These transitioned into the dedication of practice. Then I would engage in an extensive walking practice. The nervous system was now ready for a reset in a lying practice. This was then followed with a seated practice – capped by dedicating the merit of the practice to all beings, as well as some friends and family who could use a little extra blessing. Each aspect of this sequence is interdependent with that which came before and the practices are complementary. The summation of the integrated whole is greater than the practice of each individual component.

The following is a summary of each of the aspects of this mindful movement practice:

Preliminaries:

The preliminaries prime the nervous system for that which follows. The preliminaries start with waking up the kinesthetic awareness in the feet. Then movement work progresses to full body.

Here is the list of progressions:

  • loading the calcaneus in inversion and eversion
  • lateral blade loading to activate the cuboid spring
  • loading the ball of foot to activate the navicular spring
  • making a circle from calcaneus through the forefoot
  • ball and foot squat with toes together, knees swing side to side to activate the cuneiform spring
  • Toe activation- lift, spread, ground, squeeze, and release to activate the intrinsic metatarsals
  • Talus activations- hip rotations, knee rotations, lateral blade tibia lever
  • split stance supination fibula rotations
  • split stance pronation/supination with forward and reverse engineering

Standing transitions to ball and foot squat. Each of the five positions of the feet follow the same sequence.

Five Foot Positions:

  • tip of big toes touching/heels slightly apart
  • heels together/toes apart
  • feet neutral/hip width
  • feet pigeon/hip width
  • wide feet/feet turned out

Movement Sequence:

  • standing in awareness
  • alternating heel lift/activate toes
  • mid foot quarter squat/spine upright and vertical
  • ball and foot squat

Dedication:

The following sequence is a salutation dedicated to all that is good in this world.

  • mountain prayer
  • reach arms to the heavens
  • mind
  • speech
  • heart
  • slow squat
  • standing on knees
  • reach heart to heavens
  • surrender
  • puppy
  • sphinx
  • cradled by the earth
  • press to cat
  • cow
  • child’s
  • bull frog
  • chair
  • mountain prayer

Walking:

Walking meditation has been traditionally a keystone to a mindful meditation practice. During my retreats, I add some somatic wisdom to this time-tested practice. Modern understanding of biomechanics informs the potential of each of the 18 positions of a 9-phase gait.

The gait chart has 18 positions which I call basic form. There are several other variations we can use to sophisticate the basic form. Reverse engineering, this is a reversed walking gait. 45/45, this adds the element of hip spirals into the walking gait. Warrior, this is a classic posture of extending the spine and lifting the heart. Side Crescent, this is a wonderful side bend to reach deeply into the core. And lastly, single leg stance torso rotation, this is a phenomenal developer of rotational stability. All these variations develop capacity in the thoracodorsal fascia, the major fascial sheet that all the muscles of the core attach into or act on.

Lying-Down:

Neurologically, the engagement of walking meditation, as I have presented, is very taxing to the nervous system. This phase of the practice is restorative. We are recovering from the arduous focus of the 18-point walking gait (found in the DNA™ Manual). There are four positions I cycle between during retreat: 90/90 supportive breathing, supported cobbler pose, legs up the wall, and corpse pose.

Seated:

The previous practices have primed the mind/body/spirit for optimal seated meditation. I now take a comfortable seat, feel my sitz bones press into the cushion, maintain a long upright spine, observe the breath, etc. These are a few of the common cues given when engaged in seated meditation. Depending on the style of meditation, the focal point of the mind is as important as sensory of the body. The two are essentially inseparable. Shamatha meditation means to peacefully abide and to be content with what is.  This is precious because then we can fully experience the present moment.

Merit:

Dedication of merit is the cap on the practice. Here I give thanks to my teachers for it is their shoulders I stand upon. It is their practices from which I have learned. It is all the Angels,  Buddhas, Bodhisattvas that have come before me that provide the template to have a practice. I dedicate the merit to all people everywhere that they may be free from all suffering and the root causes of suffering.

My afternoons were spacious to go hiking and explore the beautiful rock formations of the Stronghold. When I returned to the retreat center I would spend time hand-fininishing a beautiful mesquite pedestal for the Buddha that resides in the meditation yurt.

The evenings were when the heavy lifting occurred. My dreams where rich with past experiences. I would awaken from the dream state feeling conflicted with suffering. Each night a different cast member in the movie would show up for healing.  I found there is always more work to do and that even in dreams, it is a process.

Retreats often present themselves with timely challenges. The aspects of what needs to be worked on shows up. The way it shows up is through the interaction of mind, body, and spirit. Somatic practices build a bridge between sensory and that which is sensing.

I encourage you to make a mini vacation for yourself. Unplug from the frenetic activities of the world and fully immerse yourself into the contemplative aspect of deeply feeling you. Your investment in you is the greatest gift you can give yourself.

If you would like to learn more about going on retreat or adding meditation and mindfulness to your practices, please reach out to me at: joseph@movementmantra.com.

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Hardware/Software: An Interdependent Relationship

There is an interdependent relationship at play that should be honored when working with our clients: hardware/software. Hardware is our structure. Trauma, injuries, and surgeries all alter that structure. The body then heals those parts with connective tissue. Our body’s software is the nervous system responding to the interaction of the structure with the environment. Hardware issues also alter software. Dynamic Neuromuscular Assessment™ explores the relationship of the body’s software interacting with the hardware. Hardware issues may require medical intervention that would need to be followed up with software integration.

Software hierarchy has many competing components. I use the word competing because the interdependence of various systems are competing for the available bandwidth and resources the brain has to cope with and respond to the environment.

Let’s explore some of the components of our software and how they can affect our hardware:

Emotions:

Emotions and psychological considerations are often an element that keeps people from healing. Sometimes it is a forgotten emotional trauma tape that is still running unconsciously. Other times there is a perceived benefit from remaining in pain or being injured. Finding the root cause of the emotional disturbance, whether an event or the perception of the event, would be a primary consideration. In a survival-based nervous system, the threat of emotionally charged perception, perpetuates the arousal state and an up-regulated sympathetic nervous system.

Physiology:

The squeezing and soaking action of coiling and uncoiling activates the abdominal viscera. If the organs are impeded in some way, then the autonomic nervous system will put the brakes on movement.

Structure:

Structure implies a hardware issue. Receptor response due to hardware issues will put the brakes on movement. The conscious and unconscious somatosensory afferent inputs trump motor control.

Motor Control:

Conscious motor control has many options for interacting with compensation and replacing maladaptive compensation with a beneficial coping strategy. DNA™ assessment strategies can address periosteum, joints, ligaments, tendons, retinaculum, muscles, fascia, and scars.

Periosteum wraps the bones, giving support for leverage of the structure to act on. In a tensegrity structure, the periosteum is the boundary for the inner bag. The bones act as compression struts so that the outer bag can leverage action. If the bones didn’t have the support of the muscles, the skeletal system would collapse.

Joints provide the movement fulcrum for the muscles to act on the bones. The position sense of the joint capsule informs neuromuscular sequencing.

Ligaments act as neuromuscular switches. The afferent signals inform the cerebellum which muscles to activate during movement.

Tendons transition muscle to attachment sites. The mechanoreceptors afferent signal inform the motor control center the load on the tendon.

Retinaculum wraps around tendons to provide mechanical support. The retinaculum supports the tendons so that as load is put into the tissues, the tendon stays in place. When the retinaculum rolls toward the joint, the mechanic support is reduced. Imagine socks rolling down the leg off the calf, retinaculum will bunch up. Active connective tissue strategies can unbunch and restore retinaculum width.

Muscles are for work production. They act on connective tissue to animate the structure. Without the support of muscles, the skeleton would collapse. The mechanoreceptors afferent signals inform length and speed of position change. The position sense of the muscles is an important contribution to conscious motor control and motor learning.

Fascia and skin complete the interpretation of position sense. Kinesthetic sense is the interpretation of conscious and unconscious somatosensory inputs. Those inputs are collated and prioritized.

Scars are a local disturbance that can create global confusion. Scars hold the emotional component of trauma as well as tissue memory. The mechanoreceptors in the tissue have become disrupted and need to have their afferent input reset.

Understanding the interdependence between our hardware and software informs the entry point while assessing and interacting with our patients/clients.

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It’s time to redefine manual muscle testing!

Manual Muscle Testing (MMT) implies the practitioner is engaged in the testing of a specific muscle by placing it in a specific position. By placing the structure into a specific position, one can line up bones, joints, connective tissue, muscle attachments, and muscle fibers.  However, the body will always look to spread the load of force over as great an area as possible – this is efficiency.  Instead of putting movement in a box by testing a specific muscle, let’s instead call this movement assessment. After we define the parameters of the movement itself, we can then have the conversation about the specific players that are involved in that movement. The next step in the assessment is to ask the body who is over and under-worked and what will get the underworked player/s back in the game to restore balance.
There is a spectrum of how muscle testing is used as an assessment tool. Orthopedic assessment uses muscle testing to act on joints to test joint structures and ligaments. That kind of testing is purposefully provocative. Physical therapists use muscle testing testing to grade muscle response to stimulus. While this kind of flavor is less intense than orthopedic, it can still be provocative. These professions are using muscle testing as a gauge for structural response. This does not take into account that the nervous system needs to have capacity to appropriately respond to movement.
Applied Kinesiology is a subset of Chiropractic. AK uses muscle testing to assess structure, physiology, and emotions. While less provocative than the previous groups, AK starts with the premise of how the nervous system responds to movement.
Applied Kinesiology is like the grandmother to DNA™. The grandfather would be physical culture and the movement arts.
Dynamic Neuromuscular Assessment™ is a strategy to have a conversation with your client’s nervous system. The global question you hold using this assessment technique is, “Can the nervous system respond appropriately to the stimulus of movement?”
Excerpt from the new DNA™ Manual distributed during DNA™ seminars!
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Triangulation

This is an excerpt from the DNA™ Manual that will accompany upcoming Dynamic Neuromuscular Assessment™ Seminars.

The triangle is one of nature’s stronger structures. Triangulation is when three muscles, or a combination of muscles and connective tissue structures, form a kinetic chain. These are used primarily in force transmission systems, the manner the body organizes to produce work or absorb kinetic energy. The subsystem of the lateral kinetic chain employs a triangulation in the stance phase of the gait. The gluteus medius, adductor magnus, and contralateral quadratus lumborum are triangulating their efforts to keep the axis of the spine upright and vertical.

Triangulation shows up in many ways. It can be a combination of short lever and long lever muscles and/or it can be a combination of ligaments to muscles. Triangulation is the body balancing the need for both stability and mobility.

Movement requires a base, or a platform, from which to act on and off. Without a base, the ability to generate work production would be impaired. This would be the same principle as the dynamic platform of the axial spine providing a base of appendicular movement. This is a global perspective.

Triangulation occurs in all three planes of movement: pitch, roll, and yaw. Let’s look at the movement of the scapula to illustrate this. This is a local perspective.

Pitch~ pectoralis minor/lower trapezius/levator scapula

Roll ~ rhomboid/serattus anterior/levator scapula

Yaw~ pectoralis minor/middle & upper trapezius /levator scapula

 

Note: The levator scapula triangulates with scapular stability in each plane of movement. This long lever, multi-segmented muscle is often overworked and underappreciated in its key role in movement and the dynamic stability of the scapula

*Illustration Credit:

Robinson, J. (n.d.). Schuenke, M., Ross, L. M., Lamperti, E. D., Schulte, E., & Schumacher, U. (2006). Atlas of anatomy: general anatomy and musculoskeletal system. Stuttgart, NY: Thieme

 

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FAQ: Why Dynamic Neuromuscular Assessment™ Is For You

Within my athletic performance practice, the framework and methodology of Dynamic Neuromuscular Assessment™ has become key in assessing my clients and leading them back to their desired performance levels.

DNA™ integrates with multiple treatment modalities including PDTR, NKT, NMR, etc. – which combine with soft tissue and movement practices to help restore client’s health, movement, and performance.  The development of DNA™ has provided the framework and tools to find often hidden dysfunctions and causes of pain, even when the cause might be tied to old traumas. – Mark Kendall

Who would benefit from taking the DNA™ seminar?

Any professional who includes manual muscle testing in their therapeutic practice.

How is this seminar different than other modalities being offered?

DNA™ is the only manual muscle testing workshop that teaches a format I call Hybrid Movement Assessment. Hybrid Movement Assessment is the overarching skill you will learn in Dynamic Neuromuscular Assessment (DNA™).  This Essential Skill informs the other four (The Five Essential Skills).

By learning to seamlessly transition between direct muscle testing strategies and indirect muscle testing, you will increase your ability to make change in the nervous system of your clients. You will find that in DNA we redefine manual muscle testing by changing the paradigm of testing muscles to assessing the response to movement.  We will be asking ourselves, “Can the nervous system and the structure appropriately respond to the movement environment?”

Hybrid Movement Assessment strategies are essential for evaluating the players in respiration.  For example, the Intrinsic Kinetic Chain has many players that cannot be evaluated with direct muscle testing strategies.

Hybrid movement assessment is exceptionally powerful because it is not testing muscles.  Instead, it is about having a kinesthetic conversation and asking a foundational question whether the nervous system/structure can respond appropriately to movement stimulus.

DNA™ is a distillation of my 25 years’ experience using manual muscle testing as a diagnostic strategy. I developed this hybrid movement assessment nearly 20 years ago in my search to a short cut to find the quickest way possible to get the most results.  I had many insights along the way that form the basis of DNA.

Insight highlights from 25 years of practice:

  • The bodies intelligence already contains the answers to what the body needs to be healthy, whole, and complete. It then becomes a communication strategy to ask the body the right question.
  • The body doesn’t know individual muscles; the body only knows functional movement to accomplish the movement goal at hand. The body’s solution for accomplishing the movement goal is based on what functional components are available to assemble into the global movement.
  • Concentric muscle testing is taking a mere snap shot of movement.
  • Eccentric muscle testing is a loading/cueing of the whole movie.
  • Eccentric movement assessment can only be fully evaluated with hybrid movement assessment.
  • The SAID principle, specific adaptation to imposed demand, is one of the most important principles to consider when employing corrective strategies.

What can I expect to learn during the DNA™ Seminar?

In addition to hybrid muscle testing, you’ll also learn an integration of The Five Essential Skills that will have a quantum effect on the outcome of your work with clients. You will learn nuances in manual muscle testing that will refine your assessment skills.

Dynamic Neuromuscular Assessment™ is informed by The Five Principal Actions.  The Five Principal Actions have two primary attributes. One, developing the dynamic platform. And two, the storing & releasing elastic energy. Three elements are necessary to complete the dynamic platform: integration of the breathing apparatus, the ability to respond appropriately to gravity, and converting the absorption of load into ground force reaction. When the structure can respond appropriately to breath, shock absorption, and ground force reaction, then the generation of stored elastic energy and the translation of that stored elastic energy can be expressed optimally.

Is there support materials being provided for the workshop?

Absolutely! You will receive a printed DNA™ manual chocked full of information.  You will also receive access to a private discussion group on Facebook for therapists employing the DNA™ modality in their practice.  I am always happy to meet one-on-one to answer questions as well.

Do you have more questions?

DNA Seminar: Live Q&A next Wednesday, September 13th, 2017, 10am MT

https://zoom.us/j/750798913

Upcoming DNA™ Seminars

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DNA Demystified

Dynamic Neuromuscular AssessmentTM seminars take the skills you already possess and puts them into a context that will make those skills more effective.

When you employ what Joseph calls The Five Essential Skills with the corrective strategies you already use, the results of your work will have a quantum effect with your clients.

Essential Skill #1 – Hybrid Movement Assessment:

  • Learn to seamlessly transition between direct muscle testing strategies and indirect muscle testing – Manual Muscle Testing redefined
  • We will change the paradigm of testing muscles by assessing the response to movement. Can the nervous system and structure appropriately respond to the movement environment?

The Intrinsic Kinetic Chain has many players that cannot be evaluated with direct muscle testing strategies. Hybrid Movement Assessment strategies are essential for evaluating the players in respiration – a key element in assessing clients.

Essential Skill #2 – Completing the Feed-back Loop:

  • Afferent sensory neurons relay information about how movement is responding to the movement environment: this is feed-back motor control
  • Efferent motor neurons are the motor instructions to the periphery: this is feed-forward motor control
  • Using both feed-back and feed-forward movement completes the proprioceptive feed-back loop

Compensation is learned through the feed-back loop. Adaptation is need and response, two sides of the movement equation. Motor learning requires the integration of both feed-back and feed-forward communication to and from the brain.  Feed-forward motor instructions allow the motor control center of the brain to capitalize on compensation patterns. DNA’s movement assessment strategies uncover hidden compensation.

Essential Skill #3 – The Functional Compass:

  • The functional compass provides a map for movement potential
  • Movement happens through non-linear spirals
  • Joints act in compression and distraction
  • Joint assessment using the functional compass evaluates the spectrum of movement potential

Shock Absorption of the Deep Longitudinal Kinetic Chain is interdependent with the ability of the joint capsule to translate compression to distraction over its range of motion. When the joint loses its ability to respond appropriately, compensation will show up as a symptom in ligaments, tendons, muscle and fascia.  DNA’s joint by joint assessment strategies give laser focus attention on the root cause rather than the symptom.

Essential Skill #4 – Functional Dysfunctional Movement:

  • This is analogous to non-painful dysfunctional movement
  • Movement functions can appear to be available with direct testing strategies
  • Hybrid Movement Assessment uncovers hidden layers of compensation

Movement functions can appear to be available with direct testing strategies. Challenging those movements with Hybrid Movement Assessment will uncover hidden layers of compensation: “just because you can doesn’t mean you should.”

Often, our clients are reinforcing compensation through their daily movement. DNA’s assessment strategies identify these patterns so they may be appropriately addressed.

Essential Skill #5 – Eccentric Movement Assessment:

  • Direct Concentric muscle testing is a mere snapshot of movement
  • Eccentric Movement Assessment challenges movement over a range rather than a snapshot
  • Eccentric Movement Assessment incorporates the SAID principle into assessment strategies

The rules of the SAID principle states that adaptation is specific to demand. If the motor program is not cued into the corrective strategy, it may not respond to the correction. Eccentric Movement Assessment cues the motor control center to a larger context of information. This brings up compensatory patterns that would not be revealed in standard concentric testing strategies.

DNA’s assessment strategies are unique as they incorporate both sides of the movement equation.  Concentric activation must be balanced with Eccentric stabilization. This skill set can be explored through the core subsystems of The 5 Primary Kinetic Chains.

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Guest Podcast on The Movement Man

Listen to Founder Joseph Schwartz drop some wisdom as a guest on – The Movement Man – Stephen Braybrook’s Podcast “Movement Philosophy.”  Listen here.

“In this episode I talk with Joseph Schwartz, the founder of Movement Mantra and the developer of The 5 Primary Kinetic Chains to find out how these chains influence movement and relate to emotions.”

Braybrook is a movement expert, author of The Evolution of Biomechanics, and creator of Brain-Move.

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Muscles and The 5 Primary Kinetic Chains

Muscles produce work in the body. They come in two distinct types, smooth and striated. Smooth muscles are governed by the autonomic nervous system. Their function is automatic. Smooth muscles perform the regulatory functions. The tissues that make up organs, the GI tract, and arteries utilize smooth muscles to perform their unique functions. Conversely, striated muscles are governed by the rules of conscious motor control. Striated muscles are often referred to as skeletal muscles. Their job is to act on the skeleton for posture and movement.

Skeletal muscles have a spectrum of roles.  Highlights include: work production, multiple joint stabilization, and position sense. Muscles need to be available to do their job in the movement equation. If they can’t participate appropriately, the brain will come up with a coping strategy. This is a survival-based mechanism, and this is what we call compensation. Compensation has many flavors, and despite a bad rap, it is the intelligence of the body doing its best to keep you safe.

Muscles come in many configurations. Generally, the large powerhouse muscles are more superficial, while the intrinsic stabilizers are deeper. Some muscles are specific in fibril orientation and function while others are available for multiple roles. For example, the large powerhouse muscles of the posterior chain, the latissimus dorsi and gluteus maximus, have multiple fibril orientations that look like a fan. This gives these muscles mechanical advantage over the range-of-motion spectrum.

For simplicity, let’s categorize muscles into two sets: short and long-lever. Short-lever muscles are the dependable hardworking muscles. They have mechanical advantage on the joint. The brain likes to use them as the go-to muscle during work production. Long-lever muscles cross multiple joints and have multiple attachments. Long-lever muscles are best suited for stabilization during work production. Their role is key when movement deviates and unknown variables occur in the environment.

Compensation patterns have a common trait among short and long-lever muscles: short-lever muscles are the heroes. They come to rescue when the long-lever muscles are not responding appropriately in the movement environment.

Short-Lever Muscles:

–         cross one joint

–         mechanical advantage

–         commonly up-regulated

Long-Lever Muscles:

–         cross multiple joints

–         stabilizer during work production

–         commonly down-regulated

Common Relationships:

Short-Lever  ~  Long-Lever

Tibia Rotation

popliteus  ~  bíceps femoris

Knee Flexion

bíceps femoris short head  ~  biceps femoris long head

Hip Flexion

iliacus  ~  psoas

Spinal Extension

multifidus  ~ erector spinea

Shoulder Abduction

subclavius  ~ pectoralis major

Elbow Flexion

brachialis  ~  biceps brachii

These examples are samples of utilizing short-lever ~ long-lever muscle relationships to assess movement compensation patterns. The kinetic chain charts in The 5 Primary Kinetic Chains provide a map for investigating synergistic dominance, regional interdependence, and functional opposite musculoskeletal relationships. Muscles are in constant response to joint position in the movement environment. Can the muscles in conjunction with motor control instructions respond appropriately to the environment?

My upcoming Dynamic Neuromuscular Assessment™ workshops (learn more here) will provide an integrated strategy for movement assessment in a changing environment. Some of the key skill-sets we will employ:

  • utilizing a hybrid that combines direct assessment with indicator testing to uncover functional dysfunctional movement
  • utilizing feed-forward motor control to assess structure that cannot be directly tested
  • completing the proprioceptive feedback loop to assess both motor instructions and structural response
  • investigating long series kinetic chains because muscles do not work in isolation, they work in synergistic sequences during movement
  • investigating dynamic stability as a two-part equation: concentric action balanced by eccentric action — eccentric movement evaluation uncovers hidden layers of compensation
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Unsung Hero: The Psoas

There seems to be lot of “dysfunctional psoas causing back pain” articles. I’d like to offer another viewpoint.

Say a person does have an inhibition in their psoas. What effects would that have on posture?

The short answer is: a general facilitation along the anterior kinetic chain. The body doesn’t like to be in a position it cannot stabilize. If it is weak in an action such as flexion, the body will move more into flexion, which gives the illusion of being in a safe position.

This position then affects the ability of the hamstring to act on the ischial tuberosity. How do you think the lumbar is going to respond when it does not have the reciprocal muscles balancing extension?

The next question that we should be asking is why is the psoas inhibited in the first place? Is that the causation or a symptom of something else?

Lots of questions, and each person has their unique answer.

Looking deeper into causation instead of chasing symptoms is a good practice.

Don’t just treat what you find, look deeper. Peel away the layers.

Ask for next level factors. It could be structural.  It could be physiological.  It could be emotional/cognitive. There are environmental factors as well as habitual influences that could be in play. How we work and how we move are all considerations as well.

We are complex human beings, not just muscles and a nervous system.

The psoas is involved in posture, stability, and breath. Read more about the “Mighty Psoas” here.