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An Exercise in Attention

If an exercise seems easy, check your form. There is probably something missing, and it is probably your attention.

One exercise frequently given to physical therapy patients is called The Clam. The exercise helps you` learn to differentiate the ball and socket motion of the hip from the rotational movement of the spine and pelvis. It also helps to strengthen the gluteal and rotation muscles deep in the back of the hip. The Clam demands core strength, but most of all it requires attention. 

An Exercise in Attention
Click to see how to properly perform The Clam 


Here is the common scenario: The therapist teaches the exercise to the client, watches form to make sure it is done correctly, gives a hand-out with instructions, and sends the client home to practice. The next visit the client comes back and says, “That exercise you gave me is so easy. I practiced it every night while I was watching TV.” 

Then the patient demonstrates the exercise and it is immediately apparent where things went amiss.  Perhaps the set-up is incorrect, the patient moves too quickly, or the pelvis falls back. There are so many things that can go wrong. The problem, though, can always be traced back to the fact that the patient’s attention was not on the movement.

Body awareness and thoughtful movement do not come easily to many people, but this is a skill that can and must be learned to have a positive outcome. Perhaps it was lack of awareness that caused the injury that brought the patient to the clinic in the first place. At ALTA we make very effort to teach patients to be more mindful and aware of their movement patterns. This skill can be used not only to help rehabilitate, but also to prevent further problems down the road. 


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