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Homework Cards 101

Homework Cards

We now have homework cards that complement The 5 Primary Kinetic Chain Posters. Each set has 5 cards – one corresponding card per each of the 5 kinetic chains.

The homework cards allow the practitioner to give specific homework based on their clients’ presentation. They serve as a reminder for the client to stay on track between sessions.  They also provide a template for greater client education and understanding by emphasizing both manual release and integration exercises that work in tandem for success in recovery.

The cards are easy to use. The kinetic chain illustration is on the front of the card and there are four entries on the back of the card.

Down-Regulated (Underworked):

These are the player/s not engaged. This is the part of the movement equation that needs to get back in the game of keeping the structure safe.

Up-Regulated (Overworked):

These are the player/s that are overworked by trying to do the job for the down-regulated player/s. Often, these up-regulated player/s create secondary down system effects. Good detective work discovers the primary relationship between the up and down regulated players so that the application of the release and integration is effective at restoring balance back to the structure.

Manual Release:

This is the first step in repatterning. The release of the fixated segment or inappropriate tension allows for a new pattern to be learned. There are many appropriate interventions, as well there are ways of asking the body what it needs. This is up to the practitioner and their toolbox.

Movement Integration:

There is a window of opportunity for the nervous system to learn a new pattern, and to get the player/s that have been disengaged back in the game. The manual release acts as a hack. By temporarily removing the option for compensation, the nervous system must learn a new coping strategy. Activating the down-regulated player/s give the structure the support it needs to recover balanced action.


The order of cuing the motor control center is important so that effective change and reinforcement of the pattern becomes a learned behavior. If the compensated player is not temporarily taken out of the movement equation, then subsequent movement work often will reinforce a maladaptive pattern. The idea is to displace a maladaptive pattern with a more bio-mechanically efficient pattern. Displacing maladaptive compensation with appropriate movement integration keeps the container of coping mechanisms safe.

To summarize, the homework cards are the place where you:

Identify the underworked player/s ~

Identify the overworked player/s ~

Temporarily remove the overworked player from the movement equation ~

Integrate the underworked player back into the movement equation ~

You can order your set by clicking here.

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The Body Map

Our choices for responding to our environment depends on the relationship between our body map and the environment. The body map is how the brain sees what movements are available to solve the movement equation. How we create integrated movement is by assembling the available building blocks to which we have access via the body map.

Integration starts with individual building blocks. To develop a complete body map, we need to disassemble movement into its smallest components. When we have conscious control of these smaller components, we can then start to assemble them into bigger blocks. This is the process of building the body map.

When we have a gap, a blind spot, a place that we are unable to access, the motor control center will come up with a strategy to move around that blind spot. This is an adaptive process, and this is a compensation.

We find these blind spots by asking ourselves where in our movement we have lost integration. We can observe blind spots in others when we observe overexertion, clunky movement, or their faces wincing in pain.

Ideally, our movement is like flowing water: smooth, controlled, and efficient. Water is always taking the path of least resistance. Likewise, efficient movement is learned by using the least amount of energy to accomplish the most amount of work.

As our body map expands, the motor control center has more choices for finding an efficient solution to the movement equation. This is how our movement becomes refined and more efficient.

How do we become the inner observer and cultivate deeper awareness of our own response to gaps in the body map and compensation?

The answer to that question is by introducing body map capacity programming.

Priming the nervous system for work capacity is a multi-step process. First we must recover the movement to which we no longer have access. This requires the disassembly of movement to its smallest components, individual joint articulation. Then we prime each joint by using the functional compass. This wakes up the mechanoreceptors that relay position and optimize kinetic chain sequencing. Priming the joints brings circulation and lubrication to the joint capsule and surrounding tissues. After the nervous system is primed, we can then expand on the individual building blocks and we start to assemble multiple movements into kinetic chain sequences.

Yoga asana and martial arts kata are examples of formats for assembling kinetic chains of movement. Individual goals, impediments and discipline of movement should be considered when developing a body map practice that is tailored for you and your needs.

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Shock Absorption

The second primary action of The 5 Primary Kinetic Chains is shock absorption. Shock absorption is the kinetic energy as it waves through the body. This concept has several contextual layers, let’s further explore shock absorption.

Kinetic energy refers to mass in motion. The earth we live on is a spinning ecosystem that comprises of many elements. Gravity is one of those elements (

When we walk, run, or jump, our musculoskeletal system puts into motion the mass or weight of our structure. The product of the interaction between musculoskeletal activation, gravity, and ground engagement produces a wave of energy, a kinetic wave. Energy is a wave form, as it has a measurable amplitude and modulation. The amplitude is the height of the wave, or intensity, and modulation is the length of the wave, or duration.

When we are standing still, gravity is pressing our structure into the earth. In order to counter gravity, or to balance the force of gravity, we push into the earth creating a rebound. As the popular yoga saying explains, one must “root to rise, or stand tall like a mountain.” Without this action to counter gravity, we would collapse under its compressive force.

When we add momentum, our kinetic energy increases, and more energy is required to counter-act the compressive forces. Let’s explore this experientially. Take a few normal steps and notice how the impact of the strike phase of the gait is reverberating up your structure. Now increase the kinetic energy and transition from a walk to a trot. Notice how your body requires more of your structure to dissipate the energy.

Let’s increase the energy wave another notch. Try jumping up with both legs. See how much vertical height you can clear. Feel the leg drive from pushing into the earth and the absorption of kinetic energy as you reengage with the ground as you land. Now do the same thing, but drive and land with one leg only. Notice that that single leg absorption is asymmetrical. Take inventory of how this energy moves up the body, joint by joint. This is ground force reaction and is a key principal action in movement.

What happens when a joint or multiple joints are unable to participate in the distribution of kinetic energy throughout the body during the shock absorption phase of a movement? The structure must come up with a solution to dissipate the kinetic energy, this is called a compensation pattern. This is a maladaptive learned behavior that then is reinforced with each cycle of shock absorption.

Shock absorption is an essential element in structural assessment for integrated movement. The kinetic chain chart in the Deep Longitudinal anatomy poster gives great insight into how the energy of shock absorption waves through the body.