We often make assumptions about the way things are. Whether we think the world’s flat or margarine is the same as butter, we hold tightly to our beliefs until someone comes along with the proof to challenge us.
In PT school I learned how to break down complex movements into simple 2D components. It was taught, and so I believed, that all movement could be measured in 2 dimensions. Shoulder movements were and still are measured by forward and back, right to left, or internal and external rotations. While I practiced this measurement system myself, I have always had an innate conflict with this idea-because we are 3 dimensional creatures! 2D directional movements contain useful data and are still the quickest way to assess progress, but they are fragmented components of all of the shoulder’s natural 3D movement.
The true range and full motion of our joints can’t be captured by looking at 2D fragments, even if we add them all together. Even if you brought in integrals and calculus, the computation would be too hard. Our movements are NOT geometrically consistent or symmetrical. The movements of the body spiral, curve, and have asymmetrical strengths.
The measurement techniques I used in PT school, are useful. But it’s important to remember that we are more than our measurements. It’s my goal that Physical Therapists and their clients move their understanding of the body beyond the 2D plane. Until we gain awareness about the body’s function, integration, and patterning we will always be limiting our horizons.
My dear client Sandy Blackard spoke about this journey from 2D to 3D in her blog post:
There is infinite movement possibilities in the body, I wonder if our workouts matched our 3D ness, it would also be infinitely more interesting to do. Even if we added just a little of the asymmetry to our movements we would have more 3D freedom available to explore our possibilities. 3D is not just for the movies, it is for your best body!
When you ache don’t focus on one area of tightness. When you work out don’t just isolate one muscle group. Use functional motions to strengthen your body. When you stretch move your whole body, every length, width, and depth. Much like a cat stretches, with intuition and expansion. Be more aware of your 3D-ness!