In The Lab with Eric Martinez: How to Scale Movements for your Clients

When it comes to exercise and moving better there’s no wrong answer (unless there’s no purpose behind the movement and/or it’s not safe).

I always tell my students, interns, and colleagues that we can always adjust a movement based on our client’s capabilities. Whether that’s scaling the movement down or intensifying it, a new movement is created regardless.

For example, a pistol squat (single-legged squat) takes a tremendous amount of balance, coordination, flexibility, and strength. A scale option would be to do a pistol squat from a box (eliminating the depth from the movement’s range of motion). The more intense version would be to do a goblet squat pistol (adding additional load with the full range of motion).

The key to creating an awesome movement is to know what movement arm is (the direction of force and knowing which muscles are attached where). Once all of this is mastered, there’s no limit to your movement library.

By definition, Movement Arm is simply the length between a joint axis and the line of force acting on the joint. The longer the distance of the joint to the applied weight, the more force is needed.

Movement is a set of muscles pulling in the direction of the demand. For example, the quads are a group that can only pull the knee back and assists with hip flexion. That’s if we get deeper into myology (the study of the structure, arrangement, and action of muscles), we can see that if we contract each muscle individually, it will flex the knee in its direction unbalanced.

The moral is that movement, although complex, is fun to learn and can be applied directly to yourself and clients as needed through their training regime.

Until next time, 
Eric Martinez, Co-Founder and Clinical Performance Specialist

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