How an athlete moves is more important than the movement they do.
Fifteen years ago I would not have appreciated the magnitude of that statement. However, after nearly two decades working with athletes from development to Olympic Champions; over four Olympic Games with ground and water based athletes who have competed in 19 Olympic sports and won over 22 Olympic medals. I believe that movement matters most. How an athlete of any age uses their body is critical when you consider their long-term development or their ability to sustain elite performance over a long career.
I believe that statement so much I devoted my Doctoral degree to better understanding the topic and developing The Movement Competency Screen© (MCS). The MCS was designed for coaches so they could better understand how their athletes perform the actions commonly loaded in a strength training environment. The MCS results or MCS score is the load level for that movement pattern and therefore the recommendation for how the athlete should be loaded based on how they move at that moment in time to ensure they can keep training while minimizing injury risk until they improve their movement awareness and quality. I have been labeled 'The Movement Guy,' which is not a label I deserve as there are more than one of us out there that believe Movement Matters Most, however, I am flattered but that label doesn't truly describe my professional passion.
My true passion is helping people become more 'athletic.' Although I believe in developing an individual's athleticism by using a variety of training principles, methods, and modalities. The detail of such will fuel content for this blog for years to come. First, however, it is best to start at the beginning. Or where I believe the beginning should be and that is understanding Movement Competency.
I have described movement competency as the awareness a person has in regards to performing any movement task with movement strategies that contribute to performance and not the mechanisms of injury. Determining whether someone has the 'awareness' to move well can be established by screening their movement competency. Injuries occur when demand exceeds capacity. That is when the demand experienced by the soft tissue exceeds the capacity of that soft tissue you will experience an injury. The demand can be acute in the form of a hit, or sudden force from a sharp change of direction or chronic in the form of a subtle deviation in technique that puts stress on the soft tissue and over time that stress translates into an injury. Movement screening is a method of analyzing movement tasks for the purpose of understanding if an individuals' movement strategy will contribute to their physical performance or common mechanisms of injury. The body was designed to move a certain way based on how the bones, ligaments, tendons, and muscles are arranged. How an individual moves their complex system of soft tissue can be influenced by many things. Namely age, activity level, type of activity, sustained postures, limb length, previous injury, weight, etc. When someone is interested in loading movement for any reason (i.e. to get in shape, improve sports performance, make activities of daily living easier), it has become more common for sports performance and sports medicine professionals to try to understand how that person may handle the extra load, hence screening movement.
The purpose of a movement screen is NOT to diagnose in my opinion because by definition a screen does not tell you WHY you are moving the way you are. Movement screens are by nature prognostic tools to help sports performance and sports medicine professionals better understand their clients before prescribing any physical stimulus designed to develop or enhance their physical readiness.
I don't believe movement screens are the panacea either, but they are a first step to give insight into how you move so that training or physical readiness programs can be specific to your movement competency and capacity. The benefits of a movement screen are intended to prevent you having to take time away from training and to prevent all the associated stresses and costs that come with having to take time off due to an injury that may occur from loading you beyond your movement competency and capacity.
So to wrap it up, the movement does matter. If you want to progress with your training and achieve or maintain the level of physical readiness you have achieved, you need to ensure you are loading the right foundation. A foundation of good movement competency will set you up for a life of physical literacy, well-being and optimal performance.
Dr Matt Kritz