A Guide to Better Movement: The Science and Practice of Moving with More Skill and Less Pain, Todd R. Hargrove

Learning to listen to the body is a path well worth traveling.

All intelligent animals play. The more intelligent, the more it plays. Chimps, dolphins, and dogs play more than snakes, turtles and bugs. Humans are the smartest animals and play the most.

Efficiency in movement = ratio of useful work performed compared to the cost required to perform it.

Charlie Francis considered relaxation to be the #1 secret to greater speed.

Parasitic tension (eg stress of work): unwanted and unnecessary contractions in shoulders, neck, jaw.

Moving from novice to expert in implies releasing degrees of freedom at the joints through relaxation of muscular tension.

Way to test balance at any particular point on a movement path is to see if you can change direction, even in the opposite direction. (~play w/ this in locomotion patterns; deep squat as transit)

=> reversibility as a test of movement quality

Good movement = adaptability and responsiveness to a changing environment.

Posture is a dynamic thing.

Difference in posture does not predict difference in chronic pain levels.

If movement is a skill that can be improved, it can also be a habit that's hard to break.

Unlike sensation, perception is a skill that improves with practice (eg elite athlete better perception than beginner, sensation same; perception trained)

Focused attention = key requirement for practice that maximizes neuroplasticity and associated motor learning. Tunnel vision.

External cues/focus promotes faster motor learning. (eg push feet in floor vs extend hips and knees)

Almost any intervention intended to treat pain and improve quality of movement involves novel stimulus.

=> only causes long term changes if it improves function, if not temporary

=> focus on active movement based therapy that helps the brain create better function

Use pregnancy rule: impose constraint on movement that will make difference between R/W more obvious.

Various forms of learning and memorization are improved after a bout of exercise. (STEPHEN FUCKING JEPSON)

Play can speed learning.

Developmental movements:


head control






=> adults who use this will retrieve and brush up on some primal movement patterns that might be neglected

(TEST Dr. Mark Cheng zijn Sphinx positie stuff)

Developmental position can reduce protective activity; facilitate recovery of motor patterns.

=> Improve movement by limiting movement options. (Isolation, integration)

"As soon as your body thinks it has all the answers, you need to start asking different questions."

Spend more time sitting on the floor.

Pain is a conscious experience created by the brain, not a damaged condition of the body.

Nociception: sensory signaling indicating danger to the tissues of the body.

When the brain receives a danger signal from the body, it will need to ask: "how dangerous is this really" To answer it draws in every piece of info available related to threat: sensory cues, past memories, emotions.

Thoughts and expectations affect pain (WUSHU RELAX!!!).

Pain is real. Pain is a real FEELING, but that feeling does not necessarily reflect real damage in the body.

On MRI's:

almost no matter where you point an MRI on an adult body, you can find something wrong there, even parts that are completely free of pain.

Why pain is not an accurate indicator of tissue damage:

1. Purpose is not to measure tissue damage, but to encourage protective behaviors

2. Pain protects against PERCEIVED threat, not actual threat, and the brain's perceptions in this regard can simply be incorrect

Pain is an action signal, not damage meter.

Some individuals are prone to maintaining sensitization even after tissue damage has healed.

Pain becomes like habit that's hard to break.

If you have pain for >3 months: changes in the way your nervous system processes danger signals from the painful area.

Nocebo - when thoughts can make pain worse. (eg guy with the needle in boot)

Chronic pain people have difficulty with control of the pelvis and low back (peel aways on the floor, body line work with ant/post tilt/wall work/...)

Graded exposure: progressive introduction of threatening movements or other stimuli, in appropriate dosage and timing, to cause nervous system to become less threatened by the movements.

Learning about pain physiology improves pain.

Chronic low back pain => improve motor control is most effective method.

Sensory gating: give body competing sense information => hitting/rubbing injured area.

Should feel like a "good pain."


One limiting factor in reaching your physical potential is the extent to which your nervous system is in protective mode.

(Brain's perception of threat should be low bro)

On flexibility:

contracting stretched muscle shows the nervous system that it can safely return the joint to neutral

Fatigue is not a physical state, but emotion used by brain to regulate exercise stress.

Quickest way to increase performance is reduce perceived threat related to movement. => graded exposure in everything

There's not isolated emotion, thought, movement or isolation. Each mental output involves elements of the other three. Every thought has associated movement, sensation, and emotion.

"think good thoughts" vs "moving happy moves" => it works both ways my friend

Practicing control of movement to practice control of emotion.

Metacognition (mindfulness): ability to look at thoughts, perceptions and emotions in non-judgmental way.

=> difference between wise self-knowledge and neurotic self-consciousness

Better interoceptive awareness =>better strategies for emotional and physiological regulation

(sensory information form the viscera and other organs that indicate body's physiological state: HR, PH, blood pressure, oxygenation of lungs (Wim Hof), fullness stomach (Yojokun)

Find ways of moving that might normally be uncomfortable but will feel good with novel modifications.

"Make the impossible possible, the hard easy, and the easy elegant."

- Moshé Feldenkrais