Order and progression are natural parts of our everyday lives. Some of those essential sequences include: infancy before adulthood, listening before speaking, learning before teaching, and completing elementary before high-school. This arrangement or sequence of development is also present in our ability to control the movement of our body. We gain physical control of the head before the legs, core before the fingers or toes, and perform gross motor movements (large movements = crawling/walking) before fine motor movements (small movements = grasping/writing). Merriam-Webster defines the development of physical control occurring from head to tail as cephalocaudal and development from trunk outward to the limbs then fingers as proximodistal. When we abide to the natural order of development, or better yet the plan, we produce results; and this same theory should guide fitness program design. In order to earn their movement rights, babies roll, sit, crawl, and stand well before walking or running; so why don't you? If these drills are not part of your training you could be missing vital steps in the development of balanced and secure physical structure.
The National Center for Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities (NCBDD) has produced a list of physical abilities called "developmental milestones" in an order of acquisition. This sequence will determine a child's progression or delay of natural physical locomotion. We must all master this sequence of ground skills before we have earned the privilege to produce locomotion on two feet. The NCBDD Milestones include: sitting up prone before a roll, rolling before sitting on the butt, upright sitting before crawl, and crawling before any standing, walking, or running. These flags mark the tolls you paid in order to enter new phases of physical movement, ability, and control. So now, in adulthood, why are the privileges you paid for not being used or causing you pain in the process? More than likely this pain occurs because of a crack in your foundation of movement. You skipped or forgot the beginnings of movement development, and initiated training from the middle of the process (walking/running), not the start (sitting, rolling, and crawling), like you did the first time through life. You wouldn't build a house from the roof down, would you? Just in case you're unfamiliar with the process, the answer is no. You would begin construction with a solid foundation and build upward; because without something strong to stand upon, the walls will not have the integrity to hold the roof. This same theory, FROM THE GROUND UP, should be applied to the construction of a strong and stable physical structure (your body).
Here are some simple and effective drills that will allow you to reclaim your physical movement by training like you did from the start:
* Sitting Up Prone - while lying on your stomach as if watching TV, raise your chest and upper abdomen off the ground by pulling your forearms under your upper body. Pull your shoulder blades together, chest open, and stomach long while you hold yourself up. Stay in perfect tight form/posture and hold for 30 seconds - 1 minute. Lower your chest to the floor by pulling your forearms out from underneath your body. Rest and repeat 5-10 times.
* Rolling - start rolling by lying flat on the floor with both arms and legs straight out from the body on either your stomach or back. Start your roll by raising an arm or leg off the ground and reaching to the opposite side of the body. Keep your stomach tight, raise the head, and follow the hand/leg with the eyes until the turn is complete (back to stomach or vice versa). Try not to push off the ground during the roll; rather pull yourself over with the appendage and your abdominal strength.
* Crawling - simply crawl like a baby from the hands and knees working to move the hands and knees in a contralateral pattern as you do when walking or running (left knee moves forward as right hand moves forward and vice versa). Pull the chest open, shoulder blades together; hold the head up, and the stomach long and firm, maintaining a rigid torso/plank while moving.
Sitting, rolling, and crawling (ground flow) are the first forms of movement infants utilized to explore their surroundings. The benefits that result from babies' mastery of ground flow are essential to full physical development. The same benefits available to babies available to adults, who employ ground flow as well and, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), include: increased shoulder/trunk/hand strength, improved brain hemisphere communication/functioning, improved hand eye coordination, increased spatial awareness, and better balance. The sequence of movement milestones was mastered at the beginning of life in order for us to progress into walking and again should be revisited by adults wanting to regain full control of their physical abilities. When you follow the plan from the start, the results are apparent; you end up with a solid foundation upon which you can build a strong functional structure.
Stay Active, Stay Strong,
James F. Thomas