How We Screen Functional Movement (Series): Rotary Stability

How We Screen Functional Movement (Series): Rotary Stability

Welcome Back!

So far in our series we have covered the first 2 screens in our Functional Movement Screen over the last two weeks, Active Straight Leg Raise (ASLR) and Shoulder Mobility (SM), which focused on mobility for the lower extremity and upper extremity, respectively.

Today We Will Discuss:

  • The Importance of the Rotary Stability Screen
  • Why we want to Mobility before Stability & Stability before Movement
  • How Rotary Stability Impacts Daily Movement

Mobility before Stability

Today we are going to reviewing the first of our stability-based screens, Rotary Stability. At this point it is important to review our training rule of Mobility before Stability, Stability before Movement, Movement before Strength. We want to focus on correcting and restoring mobility first, if necessary (as determined by the ALSR and SM screens) to regain range of motion (ROM) followed by learning how to stabilize and control that new learned range. Think of stability as “hitting save on the document” therefore we want to save and maintain good ROM.

If we stabilize first, prior to regaining mobility (if required, determined by ASLR and SM) we will be teaching our body to maintain stiff and restricted joint mobility. This can be a big issue in those who train without being screened prior to training. Your training may be causing you to further lose ROM rather than gain it. Loss of mobility, results in loss of stability if we go back to our joint-by-joint approach (see week 2 blog, Joint-by-Joint approach) which can ultimately result in dysfunction, pain and injury. Proper joint mobility is also required for proper local feedback from joints to our brain to assist with local joint stability and control, a term referred to as proprioception. The full detail of this mechanism is beyond the scope of this article; however, this is also another big reason of mobility before stability. Loss of proprioception, which occurs from limited joint mobility (can result from previous injury, postural stress, repetitive stress, poor training technique, arthritis, etc.) is a big factor in loss of balance, which is obviously a big risk for injury.

Stability before Movement

Now that we have discussed the importance of why we mobilize prior to stabilize, let’s begin to discuss stability and its importance. Stability provides the foundation for our brain to be able to have proper control of our muscles and joints, what is referred to as motor control. Motor control is a pathway of information sent from a joint in our body (ankle, knee, hip, shoulder, etc.) through our spinal cord to our brain, that information being processed by our brain and then the brain sending the proper message back to the muscles of the joint to provide the action (movement, etc.) required. This process is one of the biggest things that becomes disrupted following injury. It often must be regained through proper rehabilitation following an injury; Left untreated it can become altered forever following an injury. This can have significant consequences including another injury or an injury in an area that must compensate for this loss, as previously discussed in our joint-by-joint approach.

One of the best explanations for stability is how we developed our movement from infancy, going from very stable positions to more complex and less stable positions requiring more control. In essence, we earned the right to be in certain postures through proper control or we fell. From laying on our stomach or back, to rolling from our back to our stomach and vice versa, to crawling, sitting, kneeling, squatting, standing and eventually walking. This is also the typical method of working to correct stability, starting in more stable environments, and working to less stable, more complex positions (placing more demand on the spine). This is what we refer to as the four postures: supported (lying), suspended (quadruped, on all fours), stacked (kneeling, half-kneeling) and standing. This method of working from most to least stable in correcting stability helps us to meet our clients where they are at, so that we can challenge them to the level that is appropriate without over challenging that can lead to compensations and training into dysfunction. The problem if you have underlying stability deficiencies, but only train from a standing position. Stability, in addition to strength, is also a major reason why many people have difficulty getting themselves up from the floor as they age, another major survival risk factor.

Let’s get into discussing the first of our stability screens, the Rotary Stability screen:

Impact of Rotary Stability in Daily Movement

This screen tests our ability to resist (stabilize) rotation when having to maintain our position against a push or pull on one side of our body. The ability tested in this screen is demonstrated when we attempt to control movement with crawling, climbing, running, swinging, and throwing; in activities such as carrying an item on one side of body, throwing a ball, resisting being pushed, or paddling a kayak as well as with running, hiking, and walking. Technically speaking, the rotary stability screen observes simultaneous pelvis, core, and shoulder girdle stability during a combined upper and lower extremity movement. The pelvis, core and shoulder girdle are three of our primary areas of stability according to our joint-by-joint approach.

If we think about it, this passes the DIMADS (Does It Make Any Darn Sense) test given the importance of mobility at the hips and shoulders, which requires proper stability at the pelvis and core for the hips and shoulder girdle for the shoulders. We already reviewed our screens to look at hip mobility with the Active Straight Leg Raise Screen and shoulder mobility with the Shoulder Mobility screen, so you can see how all these screens start to come together to give us a complete functional picture of how well the body moves. There is a strong carryover of the stabilization to our functional screens, including the inline lunge, hurdle step and overhead deep squat, which we will review in the coming weeks.

Rotary Stability Screening

Limitations of the Rotary Stability screen can be attributed to poor ability to control our core, compromised shoulder blade (scapula) and pelvic stability, and/or limited mobility of the knee(s), hip(s), spine and shoulder(s).

Stabilization, such as that screened by the rotary stability screen, is extremely important to many of our daily activities as previously discussed. Therefore it is vital to have an understanding of how well we stabilize prior to designing an exercise program. This pattern should be corrected and reach a satisfactory level prior to performing any exercises that require you to load one side of your body at a time, which can be done during exercises such as a snatch or swing. Also, we need to be cautious with exercises that have a high stability requirement such as squats and deadlifts.

What’s Next…

We hope that our continued discussion of the FMS and the rotary stability screen have demonstrated the strong need for a proper fitness screen prior to initiating a training program. For more information on corrective strategies that we utilize in our training programs to help improve the rotary stability pattern, continue to follow us on social media (Instagram, Facebook) where we will be posting videos of how to improve and correct rotary stability.

Next week we will be discussing the second of our stability screens, the Trunk Stability Push Up.

Stay Tuned!

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