The Difference Between a Movement and Activation Pattern

Good form isn't just about how an exercise looks

By Coach E

The term movement pattern implies the use of the sense of sight.

The term activation pattern implies the use of the sense of feeling aka kinesthesis.

The important distinction occurs when the movement pattern doesn’t inform the activation pattern i.e. you can make a movement pattern look as shown, but the activation pattern isn’t what you want.

This is a big problem with learning exercises from videos where there’s no instruction – you can see what’s going on but you can’t see what muscles should be active or inactive.

Simply making a movement look like it’s supposed to doesn’t always make it right.

That’s why at Precision Movement we use the acronym M/AP, which stands for Movement and/or Activation Pattern.

Sometimes we’re focused just on the movement. Sometimes on the activation. Often times both.

Today’s video illustrates the importance of the M/AP with a great little exercise I’ve called “Tying Your Shoes”.

This exercise builds strength in full knee and hip flexion and integrates the important concept of metatarsal pressure that everyone who has followed Lower Limb Control is familiar with. As such it improves deep squat mobility.

The best part about this technique is that you can incorporate it into your daily life, obviously whenever you tie your shoes and also whenever you need to get low to the ground to do something like catch worms for fishing or retrieve a dropped chew toy for your teething baby.

Give it a go then use the concepts you’ll learn in your everyday life – the more you incorporate novel and useful M/APs into your everyday life, the easier achieving movement longevity will be.

Tying Your Shoes

Worry less about reps/hold times and focus more on technique. If you must, set a timer for 5 or 10 minutes and practice it for that amount of time, resting when you feel you need to.

About the Author

Eric Wong (aka Coach E) is the founder of Precision Movement and has a degree in Kinesiology from the University of Waterloo. He's been a coach since 2005 and spent his early career training combat athletes including multiple UFC fighters and professional boxers. He now dedicates himself to helping active people eliminate pain and improve mobility. He lives in Toronto (Go Leafs Go!) with his wife and two kids and drinks black coffee at work and IPAs at play. Click here to learn more about Eric.