Movement Principle # 4

Written by Gray Cook FMS

Principle 4: Movement learning and re-learning has hierarchies that are fundamental to the development of perception and behavior.

The natural movement learning progression starts with mobility. This means unrestricted movement is necessary for clear perception and behavior through motor control. It may be unrealistic to expect a full return of mobility in some clients and patients, but some improvement is necessary to change perception and enhance input.

Active movements demonstrate basic control and are followed by static stabilization under load. This is followed by dynamic stabilization under load. From this framework, our freedom of movement and controlled movement patterns are developed for transitions in posture and position, maintenance of posture, locomotion and the manipulation of objects.

This hierarchy makes a lot of sense to most people at first glance. However, when we turn around and do what we do, we don’t always follow those rules. Many of my contemporaries have published articles or written book chapters on stabilization. It’s good material and says a lot of the same things I say about static and dynamic stabilization and motor control.

However, I think the one error they make is that they don’t position the statement. People may write an article or develop a program based on trunk stabilization or core stabilization and never have an asterisk.

We’re assuming that thoracic spine mobility, hip mobility, ankle mobility and shoulder mobility are adequate and symmetrical. If you target stabilization and motor control first attempting to maximize the available mobility and symmetry within the system, you’re allowing the system to compensate, therefore reducing the effectiveness of the stability program.

I don’t think these peers or contemporaries are actively neglecting to consider mobility. I think they assume that most competent people are doing this. I hate to say it, but I don’t think we are. We need a systematic checklist as to whether mobility is being managed. It has been managed, has plateaued or it can get no better… and then we attack stability.

Almost every window of better proprioception comes through greater range of motion or a higher, more complex position in which you try to stabilize.

Thus, mobility comes first. This isn’t Gray Cook’s rule. It’s the law of nature. Kids aren’t born stiff and then work on their flexibility for six months. Kids are pretty much born with ultimate flexibility and no control. Then, they earn their stabilization.

When our clients, athletes and patients work with us, they have restrictions, past histories, injuries, bumps and bruises. However, it doesn’t mean we blindly run into conditioning or stabilization.

We first go back and grab more mobility. The reason we do this is because perception drives behavior. We can change mobility quickly without a lot of complex programming, so why shouldn’t we and why wouldn’t we?

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