Feedback Exercises and Automatic Movement

The purpose of exercises that have a rehabilitative or control basis is to ramp up the feedback processes, so that we can be responsible for better stability in moving. We know this is working when we have changed the way our body feels as a result of the feedback exercise. This means that the exercise is changing the perception of the body (at least in this feedback mode).

The feedback exercises I use come from Developmental Kinesiology, or the milestones that a baby passes through during the first year of life. These exercises begin by lying on your back (supine) so that you can feel the full length of your spine. Supine exercises set up sagittal stabilisation, which means we know what our shoulders and hips are doing and how they are being used because the supine position affords this feedback. It is important that you can lift your feet from the ground in supine, without your low back lifting away from the floor. This is done from a Constructive rest position, where the knees are bent and the feet are resting on the floor.

Constructive Rest with the hands on front-side ribs to monitor intra-abdominal pressure

From supine, we learn to roll, which sets up ipsilateral or same side stability. It also differentiates our left and right sides, if we were to divide our bodies up the middle. When we roll, we find ourselves prone (facedown) and from prone, we can come onto all fours, and from quadraped to standing to walking. This completes the cycle by adding contralateral movement (moving through our diagonal quadrants). In our actual experience, ipsilateral is implied in contralateral, because we need to be stable through the same side in order to free the opposite limbs to move (more on this in future blogs).

As adults we need to learn these movements anew, because we are strong in certain movements and muscles, and unaware in others, this lack of awareness of even-ness in the body has been called various names;

  • proprioceptive neglect (by Isableu)
  • somato-sensory amnesia (by Hanna)
  • debauched kinaesthesia (by FM Alexander)
Rolling from Supine, left side is the punctum fixum to free the right side to move

Part of the problem as I see it, is that we do not consider movement as intelligence. Yet movement intelligence is our primary intelligence and has developed over millions of years using the organising principle of the field of gravity. Our most basic perception is up and down and this lives in the bi-directionality of the spine.

From the basis of consistent practice of feedback based movements, we need to plug the changed perception into automatic movement. The way I stand, sit, lie and move throughout the day.

We use the felt experience generated by feedback based movement to influence the ease and efficiency of automatic movement such as gait.

Feedback based exercises happen in a tightly controlled environment, where the reward is performing them with no gaps in perception. The difficulty in automatic movement is that the gaps are everywhere.

The pelvis is lifted from the floor in prone utilising intra-abdominal pressure while maintaining spinal length

The beauty of seeing feedback and automatic movement, as 2 sides of the same coin, is that we get to use contrast as the teacher. Contrast is the beauty inherent in feeling and moving.

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