Many movement teachers get worried when they see a students with physical asymmetries during pilates workouts. Teachers certainly don't expect every human body to be perfectly symmetrical. There are all kinds of physical asymmetries, both functional and also structural. Sometimes students are born with them, for example an arm-length discrepancy. Sometimes the differences grow or develop as we get older, either in a car accident, sometimes as a result of daily work habits or in bad postures while watching tv on the couch. Sometimes they develop on purpose, like athletes as they spend so much time in athletic activities.
In the Functional Movement Scoring categories of the unqualified comments from the asymmetry debate are removed. When a movement teacher or physical therapist sees someone who has functional asymmetry, meaning it's normal on one side and balanced on the other ,the teacher or therapist knows that the student or patient is at least functional on each side. For optimal mobility and optimal patterning during pilates fitness routines or physical therapy sessions, there's going to be a deficiency on one of the side. However, the teacher of therapist knows that many athletes have asymmetries on the right or left side. When this student or patient goes into the weight-training room with a '1-2' physical asymmetry, whether it's in the lower body or upper body, and then they perform a back squat, they are not able to move into that optimal movement pattern. The reason for this is that the most responsible squatting fails to explore full range of mobility. The squat movements only explore about 1/3 to 2/4 of the range of the strength training movements.
What if the student or patient has a '2-3' asymmetry? They can't lift their leg beyond 45 degrees on either side, but they can lift their leg almost 65 degrees on both sides. When the students starts to go into a typical dead-lift, they're going to experience torque and twisting on the spine. The same torque and twisting will occur with the shoulders.
Don't attempt to address the symmetrical patterns--deep squat or pushup--with corrective exercise if an asymmetry is in other parts of the body. The physical asymmetry is likely producing limitations or is compromising coordination. Reduced mobility or stability on one side of the body is almost certainly affecting posture and coordination, causing muscle to contract inappropriately, which will result in weight shifting, torque and torsion.
It is prudent to focus on the physical asymmetry and lessen its effect on the mobility patterns and then recheck the squat or pushup. Addressing this asymmetry will possibly change the movement pattern because movement progressions for the mobility patterns will not effectively solves bodily asymmetries.
The part of the body most controlled by mobility or stability problems warrants attention first. The problem mobility patterns continually be a baseline to notice any improvements. Once you resolved an asymmetry, using these opposing patterns, it will serve as comparison that creates a baseline for corrective exercises.
Amy Backer the owner of Bodylogic Pilates - http://www.bodylogicpilates.com. She earned her BFA degree in Dance at the University of Colorado and her teaching certificate from the internationally renowned PILATES Center of Boulder in 2002. In 2009, she completed Body Language, a 200 hr anatomy study with Thomas Myers, the author of Anatomy Trains. Andrea s also a Zero Balancing practitioner certification candidate.
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