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    MovNat®: Lessons in Functional Movement

    November 26, 2018




    I'd like to tell you where my Fall went but I honestly don't know, as I sit here right after Thanksgiving. Actually, I do know. It was two conferences and one class in the span of 4 weeks. I'll do my share outs but not chronologically, it doesn't feel right, because MovNat® has kind of consumed me lately  :)


    As my understanding of the functional movement requirements of jobs for youth with disabilities has deepened, so has my understanding of their physical abilities in the context of environmental demands. I have been perusing functional movement systems used in the fitness world with great interest, following along on Twitter and Instagram. I really appreciated the Functional Movement Screen, but as a screener for participation in community fitness it didn't seem to meet my need...although it can be a good evaluative tool to link movements to impairment. I have been the most intrigued by MovNat®, a functional movement training system that combines functional tasks with fitness. Movements can be programmed, similar to the way that I describe in the latest book. They recommend specific sequencing and variations and utilize terminology that is different from what we know.



    Many of the videos you will find look quite athletic...and I can assure you, they are, after participating in a Certification class...but the truth is, I can't fully recommend or teach something I don't embrace myself. So I went whole heart in with the class to see where it took me. Carrying a 20 pound object while walking on a 2"x4", playing catch with 10 pound balls, and crawling for 30'. Kind of reminds me what we do with preschoolers. I also discovered that MovNat® is entirely scaleable. In fact, I believe it can be scaled down to a person that has a very small movement repertoire.


    I will admit I had second thoughts when I received the certification manual with instruction to complete 20 hours of training prior to the class. My training before consisted of a lot of practice on the things I knew were difficult for me:

    1. Get ups: floor to stand without using your hands

    2. Arm hangs: with and without scapular engagement for time

    3. Broad jumps: standing for variable distances.


    I made great progress in the 15 hours I was able to do...specifically I could get up off of the floor without using my hands, arm hang for 45 seconds, and broad jump about 4 feet. There is research in the geriatric world that equates the ability to get off of the floor without using your hands and your mortality. Its heady stuff...and to think, I couldn't do it and I am 52! Anyway, for these and other shenanigans you can check me out on Instagram where I include my progress as well as videos from the class.


    Once I started studying MovNat®, I didn't want to wait for the class to try some of these activities with youth...so I began with students on caseload and with entire PE classes. Interestingly enough, many kids had a hard time with sit to half kneel to stand, and even the ones that could lacked fluidity, and most lacked efficiency. For the students who could not, the teacher and I decided to have the students working on this as a part of their warm ups and/or having me lead some warm ups that include sidebent sit swivels  (side sit to side sit)and bent sit to lateral half kneel (side sit to half kneel). MovNat® uses their own terminology...which was confusing to me, but because the movements were familiar, and developmental (with high schoolers, GASP!!!) it really didn't matter to me. 


    So whats happened? Clinically, its really too early to tell, but it seems like this is the stuff that case studies could be made of. I am seeing increased hip mobility and sitting stability just with some of these very simple movements. Professionally, MovNat® definitely confirmed what I have been experiencing for a few years: our students lack functional movement required for work, and we can help them to build strength through these movement activities. Personally, I have increased my own movement repertoire and its making me interested in seeing what movement I am missing in my daily life and what movement I should engage in for my own fitness...and is helping me to set some personal goals...again, Instagram for my antics!


    Interested in experiencing functional movement in a way that is scaleable and that you can directly apply to the youth you work with? If so I do recommend taking MovNat®. I haven't taken the Elements class but suspect this class might meet the needs of therapists. I have no regrets about taking the Certification class...I found the extra time spent on instruction will help me to have the experiential piece I craved, and helped me to understand programming, as a therapist.


     I will be incorporating some of these concepts into my Fit4Work lectures. I have submitted a proposal to the Virginia Occupational Therapy Association School Symposium (Harrisonburg, VA, March 2019) and am putting together some lectures on functional fitness. As individuals in schools, we need to advocate for functional fitness for all youth, those on our caseloads or not. Its just as important to carry a bag of groceries into your house, as it is to carry your backpack...and I believe we are in a unique position to advocate for functional movement in schools and communities. I'll be sharing about my experience on giving a Population Health Lecture at APPTAC...just to drop in a tidbit, its our responsibility to advocate for all youth, and especially youth with disabilities. I believe that fitness=function, and that we need to be more aggressive in our advocacy roles in this regard, using the platforms and influence we have to promote the health and wellbeing for youth with disabilities, to help people be not only Fit4Work but Fit for Life.









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