Wednesday musings, 12/14/16: movement coupling

I was working with a client recently on an L-sit regression. I asked her to push down into paralettes bars as she reached the crown of her head towards the ceiling. When she finished, she laughed and said, “I’m using my eyebrows to reach my head.”

We all have movement habits, some of which are arguably unnecessary. It’s not uncommon for me to watch a client trying to do a foot exercise, only to have his fingers and hands mimicking the desired foot movement. Others lift their shoulders every time the step on top of a high surface, or hold their breath when they enter handstand (okay, that’s me. I am working on this). 

Moshe Feldenkrais called this type of movement coupling “parasitic movement.” These are movements that are extra, that don’t contribute to the accomplishment of the skill, but show up unconsciously. Parasitic movements use extra energy to accomplish the desired skill, and aren’t beneficial. 

If you notice you have perpetual tightness in a specific area of your body, periodically throughout the day check in and see if you are using that area to help you do daily tasks, like lifting a water glass or walk up the stairs. It’s possible changing your habit will improve your overall sense of ease and improve your movement efficiency.

*A nice blog on this topic: