Developmental movement patterns are patterns that are begin in utero, and progress through the birthing process and into early infancy. These patterns are not only vital from a movement perspective but are also essential for endocrine and brain development, something that continues to be strengthened even as we practice them as adults.
This week in JoyRide, we’ve been working with the mouthing pattern and head push, two patterns that begin early in the chain as the means to establish the rocking of the head and hard palette on the jaw, and to move the same parts of the body off C1 so there’s extension and not compression of the spine.
The head push is the beginning movement that allows for hip extension. As I learn to push with my head, my hips can become fully open, which allows for the hip joint, the knee joint and the ankle joint to open also without compressing or shearing the bones.
This also allows my spinal vertebrae space as they get pulled apart from one another from C1 all the way down the length of the spine.
For many of us as adults, this pattern has been lost, which occurs for a few different reasons, including the loss of internal pressure and fascial integrity and developing sympathetic patterns of movement as a result of being dominantly in our sympathetic or fight flight nervous system.
Then what occurs, as we stand up, rise or post to the trot for example, we push with the feet, but our head does not move further away, so as our joints start to straighten, there’s not enough space for them to do so and we create more compressive force down.
I see this in my observation of riders all the time; a lot of force pressure being applied through the feet and knees, a lot of thrust that comes from the centre of the body, a consequent stabilization and rigidity through the shoulder blades and a head and top end that is challenged to support itself in space.
Part of the reason for this is as adults, we no longer apply pressure to the top end of the body in a way that stimulates the fascial trains and creates healthy pressure. If you observe children, they are constantly rolling, inverting, moving from side to side in a way that you rarely see “grown-ups” move.
Reestablishing this pattern is not only essentially for maintaining openness of structure, but in ensuring, as riders, we are a self-supporting system that is neither overloading nor unbalancing the horses that so graciously carry us.