I thought I’d share a small portion of what I offer clients through my work as a physical therapist assistant. You can also access this article and more information through the Wholeness In Motion website, HERE.
With spring time blooming before our eyes, it’s time to get our wheels into gear. Perhaps you want to get started on tending to a new garden, give your home a thorough spring cleaning, have more play time with your kids, or get out and hike. It can be challenging to complete all these daily needs if our wheels aren’t moving with fluidity and the gears aren’t in proper functioning order.
How are My Wheels Spinning?
So how are all these wheels and gear metaphors supposed to help you in the first place? A swiss neurologist named Alois Brugger (1920-2001) created one of the first ‘get your wheels in motion’ theories. Through his concept of the Brugger’s Cogwheel, he was able to identify how different parts of the spine are interdependent on one another, much like wheels and gears on a bike. If one wheel isn’t working properly then the rest of the system won’t function smoothly. It could result in more effort to get up those steep hills of a busy life. Brugger related this with posture in saying that poor posture is not caused by how well you can hold a stoic posture with your shoulders back, chest high, and neck straight. Rather, poor posture is caused by a dysregulation of central motor function, our nervous system.
What Happens When a Wheel Gets Stuck
I’d like to think of the nervous system as the gears that control the movement of the wheels. Minute changes in the different segments, or wheels, of the spine create what ‘posture’ means to us. That’s why everyone’s posture is unique and individualized.
Brugger stated that one doesn’t have to have pain to in order to know he/she has poor posture. The nervous system is magnificent in that it is able to adapt to mostly any input it is given. So when you sit at your computer desk or hunch over your garden bed, your brain accommodates for the positioning. It does this by changing the signals sent from the brain to the muscles, and back to the brain. This feedback loop repeats until the signals being sent to the brain are changed. Pain occurs only when regulatory protective mechanisms aren’t enough to hold the person in their postural alignment. In addition, pain doesn’t necessarily originate where pain is experienced. For example, if someone has pain in their mid back it could be because the wheels above or below that segment aren’t functioning well. Even though the person may or may not feel in these other areas, the movement of the wheels will assuredly be affected. When the wheels are functioning properly then all the other organ systems can function well too, such as improved respiration and circulation.
Connecting With Your Wheels
Here is a simple movement exercise you can do to connect with the wheels of your spine.
1. Sit at the edge of a chair, feet flat on the floor.
2. Begin to draw your pubic bone forward and down to allow the pelvis to tilt forward. Allow the movement to start at the base of the spine and initiate the cogwheel interplay of lower spine, middle spine & neck.
3. While continuing the motion notice how the movement flows through the torso and mid back…the neck & head. Utilize Brugger’s cogwheel image. If you can’t imagine the cogwheels, stop, imagine the reverse cogwheel action & then reverse it again.
4. Continue rolling the pelvis forward & backward (tucking tail/lifting pubic bone<>pubic bone down/forward & tailbone lifting) and clarifying the cogwheel effect.
5) For extra credit, see what this same movement feels like with incorporating the pelvic floor in each direction.
Repeat 5-10 times in a pain free range of movement.
The Brugger’s Cogwheel is just one way of connecting to the available movement that your body has to offer. At Wholeness in Motion, we can work with you on helping to master these movements and how they are unique for you.
Written by: Susan Trancik, PTA
1)http://www.dynamicchiropractic.com/mpacms/dc/article.php?id=18210 (retrieved on 3/17/14)
2) http://books.google.com/books?id=mLMLFOlua3YC&pg=PA353&lpg=PA353&dq=bruggers+cogwheel+posture&source=bl&ots=twnwBG9EWO&sig=s9P7MhdODRHRXBkOrLCw_XXqXbk&hl=en&sa=X&ei=UN4hU9XKB4H1oASfoIGYAQ&ved=0CCoQ6AEwAQ#v=onepage&q=bruggers%20cogwheel%20posture&f=false (retrieved on 3/17/14)
3) http://victoriatheraputicmassage.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/03/8ff6a.jpg (retrived on 3/24/14)
(retrieved on 3/24/14)