Focus PT - August 2017

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August 2017

The Science of Human Movement What I’ve Learned From Studying the Inner Workings of the Body

T he human body is a delicate, intricately constructed chain. For example, if the foot doesn’t have adequate mobility or stability, it’s going to impede the movement of the pelvis. If the pelvis is restricted, it can lead to spinal damage and even lead to shoulder pain. Physical therapy school teaches you how the body functions as a cohesive unit, despite how isolated each component might look or feel. I remember one professor, Joe Godges, who was instrumental to my approach to physical therapy. He was an expert on manual therapy, and in class, he would stress the importance of knowing the specific functions of each muscle and joint in the body. He provided us with techniques that were not traditionally taught back then but are now mandatory in all of the physical therapy programs. I felt privileged to have been able to have him as a professor, and about a year after completing PT school, I took part in one of his yearlong manual therapy courses, which helped me take things to the next level. Gary Gray, a physical therapist and guru in human functional biomechanics, has also been a key contributor to my learning. His approach to human movement and how things work functionally was a real eye-opener for me. system. From the bottom of the heel to the top of the head, everything is interwoven in a single, impossibly complex

overextension in the walking motion before the foot hits the ground. Since that’s what it does functionally, then that is how we should train it, if the goal is to improve your walk. He was full of extremely detailed information, and all of that knowledge contributed to my holistic understanding of the

muscular system and human biomechanics. He taught us what we could do to help our future patients, but more importantly, he taught us why. My favorite course that contributed to my understanding of the human body was my gross anatomy class. It was an intense course that was only eight weeks long, but eight hours a day during the summer. We were fortunate enough to have the opportunity to dissect donated cadavers and analyze their inner workings. I know what you’re thinking: gross. But really, when you’re able to closely examine the design of human anatomy, especially the muscular system, it gives you an appreciation for the complexity of every movement we make throughout the day. Not only that, but the variety of cadavers provided an opportunity for comparison. When you’re learning about the human body in the abstract, it’s hard to take into account the vast array of sizes and shapes of different body parts. It really reinforced the fact that we are all individuals and need to be treated as such. Ever since I began studying the science of human movement, I’ve been fascinated. I love to be able to use the breadth of knowledge I’ve acquired throughout the years to help people live pain-free. Everything I’ve learned throughout the years goes directly into that mission. - Julian Manrique

For instance, instead of just outlining a particular exercise to strengthen the hamstring, he would ask, “What is the hamstring for?” Bending the knee? Well, yes; but if you’re walking, the hamstring isn’t only there to bend the knee. Its purpose is to decelerate the lower leg to prevent

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