Week 3 Rotation

Photo by israel palacio on Unsplash

We have reached the third week of this course. This week we will work on transitions and smooth, effortless movement.

Rotation in Space

the main features of rotation might be:

  • it brings our joints in the optimal biomechanical position
  • allows for easy weight shifting
  • creates a moment of instability.

Instability is a very important factor in movement: it allows us to move easily in all directions, and use the gravitational forces to help our movements. Young children have little strength, they usually rely on rotation and spiral movements for motor development. With the discovery of rotation, you might see sudden improvements in movement, although we never seem to have exercised one specific movement.

Rotation in the Joints

Turning from side to back or stomach for instance needs only the tiniest amount of effort - all we have to do is shift our weight enough to "lose" our balance to either side and the rest ot the turn will be taken care of by gravity: we are sinking to the ground. Lying on the belly, the first crawling movements - the lifting of the knee - will appear automatically and without effort, if the spine is able to roll back. To get up from lying on the back to sitting, you would need a rotation in your hip joints, to move from all fours to sitting, your hips and knees rotate. One very early rotation children usually discover is putting the thumb into their mouths - they have to turn the arm in the elbow. This rotation is necessary for a functional movement of the hands, and closely related to sensation.

The negative aspects of Rotation

The very moment of instability we are looking for in movement can actually be frightening for children with a compromised vestibular system, contracted arms, or "slow reflexes" due to spasticity: Unable to break their falls and adapt to the floor, they learn to prevent rotational movements in their bodies. The most famous of these movement patterns is W-sitting with the feet turned outwards - it is a position that is very hard to get out of - but at the same time a position that feels very secure.

This need for stability can develop into a downward spiral: the less you rotate, the less you are able to move with gravity - which in turn will tend to inhibit rotation even more.

Rotation is what makes movement light and beautiful, or makes achievements possible for the first time.

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