In the words of Gray Institute’s Dr. Gary Gray, a transformational zone is “an intriguing place of function where the critical masses of neuromuscular skeletal function all come together in a mysterious and miraculous way.” When you harness the power of this phenomenon, you can create recovery strategies that truly help your patients achieve their movement goals.

Transformational zones are critical to human movement, and yet, they go under-appreciated by professionals throughout the movement industry. In this article, we’ll outline what every physical therapist needs to know.

What Is a Transformational Zone?

Transformational zones are the sections of a total movement in which the motion changes from the loading direction to the exploding direction. When a movement transitions from a load to explode, the energy is transformed in this zone.

Understanding transformational zones is as simple as understanding jumping. In order to jump, you must first load the movement by squatting and then exploding into the jump by pushing off the ground. The moment your body transforms the energy of collapsing downward into accelerating through the air is the transformational zone.

Transformational zones are essential to movement. You can’t explode without loading first, which is why, if you tried to jump without squatting first, you couldn’t do it. Transformational zones are not only a common-sense way to look at movement, but they can act as an efficient and effective tool to determine if people are functional in their movements. Armed with that knowledge, physical therapists can help their patients achieve their movement goals based on a comprehensive understanding of their current abilities and levels of dysfunction. It is this process that is at the heart of 3DMAPS® (3D Movement Analysis & Performance System)— using transformational zones to understand how to help our patients move better.

How a Knowledge of Transformational Zones Can Help You Provide Better Treatment

Human movement is complex, and many “traditional” approaches and movement screens fail because they rely too heavily on protocols and set exercises. 3DMAPS teaches movement professionals how to analyze their patients in all three planes of motion, using a functional and holistic approach. When you enroll in this innovative program, you’ll gain an understanding of our transformational zones, helping you identify the function and dysfunction in any movement.

In the 3DMAPS pedagogy, there are six vital transformational zones. The beauty and wisdom of 3DMAPS is that all of human movement is based on these six movements, which are Chain Reactions driven by the hands and feet.

  • Anterior Chain Reaction®
  • Posterior Chain Reaction®
  • Same Side Lateral Chain Reaction®
  • Opposite Side Lateral Chain Reaction®
  • Same Side Rotational Chain Reaction®
  • Opposite Side Rotational Chain Reaction®

When a patient isn’t experiencing dysfunction, they can step, lunge, and twist without issue. However, when dysfunction is present, it will be evident when they move through these Chain Reactions. The biomechanics within the transformational zones further enhance the understanding and power. In the above six movements, the 66 motions of the primary joint complexes of the body are facilitated.

All of human movement is encapsulated in transformational zones. Because they’re such a comprehensive way to look at movement, mobility, stability, and dysfunction, transformational zones give us the tools to identify what’s going wrong and opportunities for patients to improve and heal.

When we understand the biomechanics of transformational zones and 3DMAPS, we have the ability and opportunity to develop amazing strategies to enhance the lives of the people we work with lead healthy, active lives.

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Ready to Learn More About Transformational Zones? Enroll in 3DMAPS at Gray Institute

3DMAPS offers physical therapists like you a system for movement analysis that is both beautiful and full of wisdom. If you’re looking for tools that enhance your understanding of biomechanics, the human body, and effective treatment, 3DMAPS should be the next course you enroll in. At Gray Institute, we have over 40 years of research and clinical experience that informs all of our techniques, courses, and methods. We are proud to work with movement professionals like you to equip you with the tools you need to become the go-to movement professional.

To learn more about 3DMAPS, please visit the course page. If you have questions or would like to speak with a member of our team about which course is right for you, don’t hesitate to reach out by filling out this simple contact form!

We’re always happy to hear from passionate professionals, and look forward to speaking with you!