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Why Natural Movement Is Therapy

Why MovNat in a Physical Therapy Practice?

By Dr. Jenny Ploss, PT, DPT, Level 2 MovNat Certified Trainer

When you walk into Langford Sports & Physical Therapy, you might notice something different about the exercises. Most of our physical therapists are certified MovNat instructors, and we often use MovNat skills and regressions as part of our therapeutic exercise programs.

Why? For me at least, I use them because there is a goal at the end. Our jobs as physical therapists are to develop programs which are progressive, beginning at the client’s current level and progressing, ideally, to functional movements they use in daily life and for recreational activities.

The problem with a lot of traditional exercises is that it’s really hard to SEE how those movements will be used later on. Sometimes it’s just impossible to avoid those traditional PT exercises – you are limited by post-operative restrictions, for example. But whenever I can, I choose to give my clients exercises from the MovNat series so that they can really see what they’re working toward.

Here’s an example. Many of my clients have very limited hip, knee, ankle and/or toe mobility. I could give them specific stretches for each of these joints, spending 3 x 30 seconds on each one. And that would totally work. But most of the time, people stop doing them because they’re boring, or more likely, because they don’t really see WHY they’re doing them. Instead, I can use the deep kneeling position. With one movement, we are getting toe, ankle, and knee mobilizations, and we can vary the intensity of the stretches with props or weight shifts as needed.

Most importantly, the client can see and feel her limitations. She understands and feels how they are affecting her ability to sit on the ground. That is much more motivating, often, than knowing how many more degrees of movement you need to achieve in order to sit on the ground.

For shoulders, I love the crawling series. Crawling is a motivating, surprisingly challenging skill with a wide range of regressions and progressions to keep a client challenged. Plus, planks are only fun for so long (which for me is not very long).

I like to use inverted crawling to improve posture and shoulder range of motion. Forward crawling is wonderful for scapular stability. And the tripod transition between the two connects the core to the sequence and refines shoulder stability in various planes of movement. Lastly, the crawl series progressions are almost limitless, so we can keep our clients challenged and engaged. We can move to the hand-foot crawl, add obstacles, or include balancing across a beam.

I’m always impressed by how motivating these movements can be.

One last example is close to my heart. My grandma is 85 and has two total hip replacements. She also has severe shoulder arthritis and her lumbar spine is nearly fused from arthritic changes. But she’s independent and active, and she wants to keep it that way. Her biggest problem is balance and falls.

Grandma comes to a MovNat class once a week, and works on balance at her local playground another few times a week on her walk. We use the full MovNat balance series with her, including counterbalancing, lateral balance, raising and lowering center of gravity, and carrying objects. We could work on tandem stance or single leg balance, but I know for a fact my grandma would stop doing those after a few weeks. But she practices her MovNat balancing at the playground with her great-grandchildren at least weekly, and she’s so proud when she can make it across the beams with the kids.

I only hope I can be as capable as my grandma when I’m 85.

If you’re a physical therapist and have been considering getting certified, I can say with confidence that you won’t regret it. Your repertoire of functional exercises will increase immensely, and you will have access to many more movements that are motivating and engaging. Exercises your patients will DO, because they can measure and feel their own improvement.

Dr. Jenny Ploss, PT, DPT, Level 2 MCTAbout the Author

Dr. Jenny Ploss, PT, DPT is a Level 2 MovNat Certified Trainer and a specialist in Bone Health, Climbing-Specific Strength, and Injury Prevention. Jenny is also a physical therapist at Langford Sports & Physical Therapy in Albuqurque, NM and has a passion for “prehab”–helping people with injury prevention rather than just post-injury treatment. She is an accomplished rock climber who hosts regular injury-prevention clinics at Langford and who trains some of Albuquerque’s strongest climbers, with an emphasis on form and longevity. She approaches her own training with determination and variety and brings that same attitude to her classes and clients.

Note: If you want to try a 6-hour MovNat Elements class, we are hosting one at our training space, MoveTru at Langford, on Saturday October 20th from 10am-4pm. This workshop is taught by certified Level II MovNat instructors and physical therapists Dr. Jenny Ploss, PT, DPT, and Dr. Jimmy Minner, PT, DPT, SCS.

Photos are courtesy of Jenny Ploss, PT, from MoveTru at Langford

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