Coordination for Movement Development – Lauren Turner AEP

Coordination with respect to human movement is the ability to move the different parts of the  body so that they effectively work together. When looking at movement development and functionality, we tend to see coordination as a movement involving a high level of difficulty such as tapping your head with one hand and rubbing your belly with the other. However, coordination is an important skill to perform basic functional movements that everybody completes in daily life. If people exhibit poor coordination, it can lead to being more susceptible to balance issues and an increased risk of falls, especially in th eelderly or impaired. The following movements all involve an element of coordination.

Walking / Gait

There are two phases of gait; these are stance phase and swing phase. Stance phase begins when the heel contacts with the ground, weight is transferred onto the foot and ends when the toe is no longer in contact with the ground. Swing phase then begins when the toe is no longer in contact with the ground, the hip swings the leg in front and ends when the heel strikes the ground. When one leg is in stance phase, the other is in the swing phase of gait. As we walk there is a small fraction of time when both feet are in contact with the ground (as the end of the swing phase and beginning of the stance phase), establishing a base of support which coincides with balance. Typically when walking, our stride length and trunk momentum stays consistent. An inconsistent foot placement from to a lack of coordination can result in a decreased base of support and an excessive weight transfer of the trunk due to momentum, leading to an increased strain on balance.  

Picking an object up   

Picking up an object from the ground can be broken into two movements; squatting and reaching. This involves the arms and legs to simultaneously move to effectively complete the movement. Squatting down to pick up an object helps to stabilise the body by increasing the base of support between your feet, and grounds the body. In a typical squat position, the knees are bent and hips are flexed forwards as to slightly lean the trunk forwards creating an even distribution of weight between the feet.  This becomes important when reaching forwards with our arms. If we are unable to coordinate this movement and are to reach forward in upright position, due to the displacement of the trunk, the weight distribution would be placed forward from our base of support placing a strain on balance and increasing the potential to fall over. However, when in a squat position, reaching forwards does not change the displacement of the trunk and the position of the bottom helps counter balance the movement.

Thus it is important to draw attention to and build on basic functional movements when looking to improve coordination and movement development.