Starfish Therapies

August 17, 2012

Movement – Conscious vs Unconscious

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I’m sure you guys are going to get tired of posts relating to my recovery but I figured since I’m going through this I might as well take note and learn as much as I can during this time.

During the first two weeks I wasn’t allowed to put weight on my leg and the first three weeks I wasn’t allowed to turn my leg out, move it out to the side or move it back.  As a result of these limitations I have had to be very conscious of all my movements.  I literally had to think about every step I took, every time I stood up, every time I moved at night (leading to not very restful nights of sleep).

Put this in relation to kids.  If they are learning a new movement or you are trying to change a movement pattern (such as toe walking) and they will only do it if they are thinking about it or being cued its not automatic for them and can not be done unconciously.  This means that if they are doing anything else, they can’t concentrate on how they have to move as well.  The goal of changing or teaching movement patterns is for it to become unconscious or automatic so that a kiddo can go about their day and concentrate on the tasks or games they are playing, not how they are moving.

That being said, the more something is practiced the easier it becomes and the more automatic it is.  By the end of the third week I could walk around my apartment without having to think about what size steps I was taking or how I was turning corners.  Now when I left my apartment that was a different story because the demands of the task changed.  There was alot more going on around me that could potentially cause distractions as well as the ground wasn’t as level so I had to revert back to thinking about each step I took.

Aries Merritt, the winner of the 100 meter hurdles in the Olympics changed his foot position out of the starting block and had to go through the same process.  He said initially it was like trying to write with his left hand (he is right handed) but after hours and hours of practice it became automatic for him (and clearly paid off).

So, think about your goals for your child’s movement and positioning and what their preferred pattern is.  If its anything other than your goal, you will have to put the time and energy and practice into making the movement or position (i.e. sitting in criss cross rather than w-sitting) something they do without thinking about it.



  1. Great post.

    Comment by Irene — August 21, 2012 @ 4:15 am | Reply

  2. The need for practice to gain automaticity is relevant in both gross and fine motor movement activities. Handwriting requires the same diligent practice in order to change poor writing habits into effective and efficient handwriting skills. Thanks for sharing this. I enjoy hearing about your recovery! Hope you are landing on both feet again soon!

    Comment by Katherine Collmer — August 23, 2012 @ 2:12 am | Reply

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