When concentrating on performing movement patterns properly understanding where the movement itself originates from is crucial so that you will know how to initiate the movement. Using the analogy of planning a road trip, the same way you would research your route and refer to maps creating a logical progression for the trip, apply that same concept when preparing to move your body. Therefore, follow the step-by-step approach featured below to “map” out your “trip” enabling you to move with purpose, intention and intelligence receiving the incredible benefits which may be achieved from properly performed movement patterns. As always, prior to beginning any exercise program, please consult your physician.
Movement Initiation Basics
Let’s use an example throughout this discussion of a bent-over latissimus dorsi (i.e. “lat”) row performed with the left foot on an 8-inch step platform holding a dumbbell in the right hand with the right arm suspended (i.e. perpendicular to the floor) by the right side of our torso, palm facing inward, with the torso hinged from the hip joint, the head/neck/shoulders/hips/knees/toes all facing the same direction, the head/neck in neutral, spine elongated (i.e. flat back,) the rib cage lifted, navel pulled toward the spine, pelvic floor pulled up, knees relaxed and the left forearm resting on the left thigh for additional spinal support.
The latissimus dorsi, which is a superficial mid/wide-lower back muscle responsible for extending, adducting, horizontally abducting and internally rotating the arm (think pull ups, rowing or swimming actions), due to its size (i.e. think of a body builder and their “wings”—the wide part of their back), originates on the spines of the lower six thoracic vertebrae, spines of the lumbar vertebrae, posterior surfaces of the sacrum and a portion of the crest of the ilium, lower three/four ribs and the inferior (lower) angle of the scapula.
The insertion of the muscle is on the intertubular groove on the anterior humerus (upper arm bone). *The lats are one of the most effective extensor muscles of the humerus.
Prior to moving any other body part, we will initiate the movement from the right lower (inferior) scapula (origination) moving the scapula toward the spine creating arm extension (i.e. during a lat row, the arm will extend posteriorly from the shoulder joint moving the insertion toward the origin).
Once you have initiated the movement from the inferior scapula, as you experience the arm extension at the shoulder joint and the scapula moving toward the spine, the arm will flex at the elbow joint, allowing the “rowing” motion up toward shoulder height, upper arm becoming parallel to the floor. *Note: the elbow flexors (i.e. biceps) flex the arm at the elbow joint as the arm extends backward/up toward the ceiling and then resists the elbow extension on the downward motion.
Think of sliding the underside of your arm alongside the lateral portion of your torso.
Then, remembering that muscles work both directions, once you have achieved the parallel upper arm position, the lats will work eccentrically to lower (i.e. flex) the arm from the shoulder joint, biceps will eccentrically extend the elbow, back to the beginning position.
Keep the mind/muscle connection strong, always initiating the movement as described prior to each repetition reaping the rewards of proper movement initiation and execution.