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6 Patterns of Movement for a Resilient and Durable Body

Do you experience pain or stiffness in your muscles and joints? Are you not seeing the results you want from your workouts?  If so, you may not be moving well through one or more of the six functional patterns of movement. When you can move well through these patterns, you will get better results from your workouts, reduce pain and stiffness, and prevent injury.

The six functional patterns of movement include the:

  • Hinge
  • Lunge/step
  • Pull
  • Push
  • Squat
  • Twist

Isolation exercises vs. full body movement

The six functional patterns of movement train the whole body. While there is a time and place to train in isolation (such as post-operatively to regain strength and mobility in a specific muscle group), the body doesn’t function in isolation.

Functional patterns of movement in everyday life

We use the functional patterns of movement not only in our workouts, but also in our everyday activities. Let’s use the squat pattern as an example.

Getting up from a low chair is essentially a squat pattern and all the components of the squat are needed. If you want to get up from a low chair, you need more than your leg muscles to work. This movement requires adequate mobility in the ankles, knees and hips, as well as a strong core.

By practicing the functional patterns of movement – like the squat – we can develop the strength, stability and motor control to maneuver into, maintain, and come out of that position without pain or difficulty.

Functional patterns of movement in rehabilitation

In our office, all of the movements and exercises performed are intentional. They improve mobility in stiff muscles and locked up joints, and help the body move in bigger patterns, so you can have less pain and better workouts.

As mobility and motor control improve, we work on integrating and loading whole patterns (such as the deadlift for hinging, goblet squat for squats and incline push-ups for pushing). We follow a “3R” system, which stands for reset, reinforce and reload:

  • Reset using hands-on work or self-myofascial release to improve mobility and reduce pain.
  • Reinforce the movement with specific exercises to improve moving into a pattern (e.g., a bridge to improve coming out of a squat position).
  • Reload to get the pattern to stick (e.g., a weighted goblet squat for the squat pattern).

Relearning how to move your body

Some people are naturally good movers. This is often the case in those who have participated in lifelong movement arts, like dance, gymnastics or martial arts. Most preschool children naturally tend to be good movers as well. You don’t have to coach them how to squat or hinge well – they naturally move well in those patterns.

However, the cumulative effects of sitting for most of the day and restrictive footwear over a lifetime results in stiffness and mobility limitations.  This means we aren’t incorporating the functional patterns of movement as well as we once did. This is where an assessment from a qualified physical therapist can help.

If you are experiencing pain or poor performance with exercise, a physical therapist with advanced training can identify limitations, correct dysfunction, and coach you on the functional patterns of movement so you can reach your goals. Sign up for a free, 15-minute phone consultation to hear how we can help.

Physical Therapist Dr. Tim Varghese

Dr. Tim Varghese

Movement Solutions

"We Help Active Adults, Ages 40-60+ Overcome Pain And Injuries And Get Back To Their Favorite Activities Without Unnecessary Medications, Injections, Or Surgeries."