Human Movement

by Phil Ross

Human movement enables us to survive and thrive. Whether movement was developed due to our ability to think and reason or if our ability to think and reason created our movement is still up to debate.

It’s my personal feeling that they were developed in tandem in accordance with the demands of how to best enable ourselves to cope with the environment and the challenges that we faced (and face) as we humans evolved. I must admit that the physiological components are necessary as a starting point.

How do we measure this movement and why is it important? The importance of human movement measurement can be found in teaching, performing and learning tasks. There is an important cognitive learning curve to skill based movements. The testing of the skills will yield information to the researcher of how well a student/subject/athlete/employee is either a) suited for a job or b) how much they have improved over time. Measurement of performance is extremely important in terms of skill acquisition and potential of performance. The data gathered from the measurements of the skill are only as useful as the tests used to garner the information.

There are two aspects of measurement that bode consideration: Reliability and Validity. The reliability of a test is based on several components. Is the test repeatable? How do we create an environment that allows us to have a repeatable test? We need to remove as many variables as possible to enable the subject the best opportunity to repeat the performance in the same fashion. For example, when I instruct a martial arts student on how to perform a particular movement or form/kata (series of movements executed in a pattern to simulate fighting), we seek repeatability of the how the movement is done. I advise of them of the body placement and when they perform it properly, I have them remember that “feeling” that they have and instruct them to seek to repeat that feeling. The kata, movement or form is done in a repeatable fashion and is thus recognizable by those familiar with the movement pattern. This enables the martial artist to be judged and evaluated. The only issue that I foresee with a method employing a sterile environment is the reduction/elimination of the heightened awareness and biological response that occur in humans under stress. Some people perform exceptionally well in practice but do not fair as well in actual application of the techniques in a contest. Others compete much better than they practice by channeling the biological functions such as adrenaline, and increased focus to increase their level of performance.

The other aspect to contemplate is the validity of a test. Does the test translate to measurement of ability to perform a task? If we were attempting to determine the potential of an athlete competing in the long jump and we used the standing jump as a barometer, which would make sense. However, if we were trying to gauge how the athlete may perform in the long jump by testing their ability on the ping pong table, that test would not make any sense. The test must have some applicable performance aspect related to the task to be considered valid. There needs to be correlation to the test and the actual task for the test to have validity and for the researcher to collect meaningful data.    

Reference: Schmidt, Richard D. and Lee, Timothy D. (2011). Motor control and learning: A behavioral emphasis. (5th Edition) Champaign. Il: Human Kinetics. Printer: Sheridan books. 

Phil Ross, AKA Master Phil and The Kettlebell King is a Master Kettlebell Instructor, College Professor in Wellness and Exercise, holder of a Masters Degree in Sports and Health Sciences, Author, 9th Degree Black Belt, and Master Bladewielder & Bodyweight Specialist. Master Phil has also launched a certification course: BodyBell Method, which is recognized by the highly regarded ACE (American Council of Exercise). Read a more in-depth description of Master Phil’s qualifications and accomplishments here. Have a question for Master Phil? Click here and send it in! View Phil's collection of Fitness DVD's here.

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