The year was 1998. The group was Aerosmith, one of the most popular Rock Bands of all-time. The song released was “I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing.”
You may recall this hit song from the movie Armageddon and / or have slow-danced to this love song at a wedding. So now the question may creep into your mind: “What does this have to do about movement?”
The answer is simple: “If our movements do not take into account the three-dimensionality, then we are certainly missing (more) than a thing.”
The year was 1970-something. Dr. Gary Gray formulated the concept of a “matrix,” which is prevalent and popular now in the Movement Industry. A matrix is a logical sequencing of movements that factor in all three planes of motion. A matrix exists so we, as Movement Professionals, do not miss a thing.
In this blog entry, we take a deep dive into the Functional Movement Spectrum. Specifically, we focus on Motion, which is included as a principle / truth in the Biological Sciences. In “The Introduction” to this Functional Movement Spectrum Series, we identified the following descriptors for Motion: Three-Dimensional (functional) vs. One-Dimensional (non-functional).
In the Motion Principle of the Functional Movement Spectrum, the opposites of the spectrum are one-dimensional and three-dimensional, with three-dimensional being the functional criteria. We all recognize that movement occurs in three dimensions (three planes of motion). But it may be helpful to take a step back and consider why Motion is a Principle that serves as a criterion for determining if something is functional. A plank exercise will certainly build strength, but since the “goal” is to have no motion, is it really functional? Rarely do we have to hold ourselves perpendicular to the force of Gravity as part of our functional activities. Introducing Motion into a plank exercise can certainly make it more functional. How often have we seen patients / clients being treated / trained for balance with the goal being “no Motion”? Dr. Gary Gray has been encouraging movement specialists for decades that balance should be “studied in motion, not in stillness.” In most cases, any functional test / exercise should involve Motion.
The traditional approach in the movement professions has been to test and train in a single plane (one-dimensional). Exercise equipment, that has been developed to focus and challenge the body, frequently drives the body in only one plane. Training is one plane can develop flexibility, strength, power, and endurance in that plane, but these attributes of function will not automatically transfer to the other two planes. In fact, it could be argued, since muscles are activated by neural sensors (proprioceptors), that training in only one plane will inhibit the utilization of the other planes during functional movements that require three-dimensional Motion.
Let’s return to the plank exercise. Assuming the position is prone on hands and feet, there are many ways to introduce three-dimensional Motion. We can even create movements that utilize all three planes simultaneously. To add motion to the movement, Applied Functional Science® tells us to choose a body part as the driver of that movement. In the plank position, the pelvis, either arm, either leg or both an arm and a leg can serve as drivers. The drivers can move in both directions in each of the three planes to transform the plank into a movement. The direction of the driving body part can combine all three planes at the same time to create three-dimensional Motion.
The same is true of functional balance. Static balance is not functional balance. Being able to stand on one foot without any appreciable Motion will not improve a patient’s / client’s balance during functional activities. The Principle of Motion tells all movement specialists to study, test, and train balance with three-dimensional movements. Balance is the ability to reach our hand(s) somewhere in three-dimensional space, and then return to a stable posture. The arms can drive three-dimensional Motion in all the joints of the body simultaneously. A functional challenge to single leg balance is created using the other leg to drive motion in each of the three planes. During some activities / sports, it is common to have both a leg and an arm driver creating three-dimensional Motions at the same time.
Why is three-dimensional motion so critical? It mimics functional activities, so it allows movements to be more authentic. It also allows the three planes of joint motion to occur simultaneously, preventing tightness in the joint capsules, ligaments, and muscles. Possibly the most important reason is that three-dimensional Motion lengthens the muscles as it occurs during function. Active muscles forces are combined with Gravity, Ground Reaction Force, Mass, and Momentum. The body “discovers” the three-dimensional physical forces that can be harnessed for functional movements. The body then creates a synergy of three-dimensional muscles forces to complement the physical forces in order to produce effective and efficient movements for functional activities.
Think about it … our hip has the ability to flex and extend in the Sagittal Plane, adduct and abduct in the Frontal Plane, and internally rotate and externally rotate in the Transverse Plane. How can you facilitate all these motions, naturally? One way is to lunge forward, backward, to the same side, to the opposite side, rotate to the same side, and rotate to the opposite side. Doing this – called a Lunge Matrix – just allowed your stance hip to experience all six motions (two in each plane), allowing your hip to do what it does in real life.
All joints move in three planes of motion (and are integrated with one another). This is why 3DMAPS® (3D Movement Analysis and Performance System) is different than any other movement analysis / screen in the industry and truly is functional. If you have not become certified in 3DMAPS® and incorporated these three-dimensional movements for your patients / clients, then we encourage you to consider doing so at https://www.grayinstitute.com/courses/maps.
Real life movements are not isolated and they certainly are not one-dimensional. If we move – and facilitate our patients / clients to move – in all three planes of motion, then we will not miss a thing!