Movement Chapter 9: Analyzing the Movements in Screens and Assessments

This is a chapter 9 summary of the book “Movement” by Gray Cook.

While I have broken up these sections into patterns, much of what Gray talks about does not involve the patterns themselves, but are still good points to know. Ergo, much like the book itself, this post may seem a little disjointed 🙂

The Deep Squat

One’s inability to squat is not considered a single problem. Instead, a disconnect is present between the body and the brain in the squatting pattern. Our brain sees things in patterns, and the squatting pattern essentially gets smudged. Before performing the squat as an exercise, we must first groove an optimal movement pattern.

One interesting point regarding the squat is that as an exercise it is often a top-down based movement. However, when we learn to squat in development, the movement occurs bottom-up. So one way to train the squat is by starting from the bottom of the squat and working to standing. This method ensures full mobility to perform a full deep squat.

To relate the SFMA to the squat pattern, Gray is very clear about not training the squat if one cannot touch his or her toes.

Hurdle Step and Single Leg Stance

These two movements simultaneously test mobility and stability of both legs. Oftentimes in these patterns you will see a high-threshold strategy (HTS), in which a hyper-protective core response occurs. Research demonstrates that this stabilization strategy can cause poor motor control to occur. These tests also are basic precursors for stepping, running, and climbing.

In this section Gray also mentions that he does not recommend assessing static postures; namely because posture is dynamic and changing.

Inline Lunge

The inline lunge is more a test of control and efficiency as opposed to strength.  Because we talk about control, we must discuss stability. It is important to note that stabilizers do not necessarily need to be strengthened, as these muscles will never be able to overpower prime movers. Instead, these muscles should be trained for endurance, timing, or quicker action.


Shoulder Mobility Reaching Test

These tests assess reciprocal arm patterns and thoracic spine mobility. The movement is challenging because opposing movements end up borrowing mobility and stability from other segments, thus potentially impairing these qualities.

Thoracic extension is necessary to perform this pattern. However, oftentimes people will compensate with thoracic flexion. This compensatory pattern can rob the scapulae of ground to help stabilize the movement.


Active Straight Leg Raise

There are several necessary components to perform this movement optimally:

  • Adequate down leg extension (otherwise substitution with anterior pelvic tilt and lordosis occurs).
  • Adequate mobility and flexibility of the elevated leg.
  • Pelvic stability prior to and during the movement.

Another interesting tidbit from this section was that research has demonstrated that one’s ability to perform a sit and reach correlated with arterial flexibility.


Core Stuff

The pushup, rotary stability, and rolling patterns all assess core functioning. In particular, the pushup looks at reflexive core action, rotary unilateral and diagonal patterns, and rolling the ability to separate upper and lower quadrants.