Movement Lesson: an overview

From Research into its Background, the Benefits and the Beneficiaries, to the Experience from a Client’s point of view.

Movement Lesson™ was started by Michelle Turner in Arizona because when her son was born he was seemingly perfectly fine & healthy, yet got very ill – and became disabled – at a young age. This massively impacted upon his development; he underwent more than 20 surgeries and was told by numerous professionals that he would not be able to walk or talk.

With the help of Michelle’s creation of Movement Lesson, fast forward to over a decade later & her son is not only moving better and has many more abilities than he was predicted to, but he is also an honours student!

So, what is Movement Lesson?

Here is what I’ve learnt:-

It is an alternative, more holistic approach, with a focus on rotation: using a gentle touch to assess and identify a weakness in the initiation of movement, it enforces rotation and counterbalance within purposeful movements, allowing the body to oppose gravity and therefore can teach new skills or make them more efficient.

 

A lot of people – wrongly, though understandably – presume that it is only our muscles that are involved in movement, and that Movement Lesson only addresses muscular issues in order to improve these rotations and movements.

However, there are so many more parts of the body, for instance bones and cognition, that are implicated in – and affected by – movement, and therefore could benefit from working towards optimising rotation and functional movement; (functional movement is essentially just what we have already discussed: movements opposing gravity, meaning going away from the floor, and which must have rotation).

 In fact, vision is one of the biggest aspects of movement!

With a focus on functional movement within Movement Lesson, the approach has 3 key steps: to initiate them, stimulate them to occur & enhance those that do.

Movement Lesson Beginnings…

Here, it’s coming up to 4 and a half years since Scott began his Movement Lesson journey, and became one of the only 2 practitioners in the UK.

 

Like with Michelle, Scott’s inspiration to begin practicing was his child.
Born almost 4 months prematurely, and with complications during the birth resulting in oxygen starvation, the prognosis for his daughter Quinn was bleak. 

 

However, Scott and his wife, Leanne, are not the type who were just willing to ‘wait and see’, as suggested by hospital staff. Instead, they began researching potential therapies to help Quinn; and, whilst many alternative methods did play a part in doing so, it was Movement Lesson in particular which resonated, after witnessing a few important aspects: the session being person-centred; Quinn enjoying herself, and the positive differences it made to her movement and coordination.

With Movement Lesson being more client-centric and working the therapy around the child/individual, rather than making the child work around the therapy, it not only makes the experience more fun and a refreshing change to more ‘traditional’ approaches, but it also seems important given the integral purpose of Movement Lesson: the gentle touches and rotations done whilst the client is in an environment comfortable with them, encourages these movements to become more natural and subconscious, rather than purely the result of a therapist’s manipulation. As these functional movements and rotations work to help messages from the body to reach the brain, and clear the path for a stronger mind-body connection, the results become more instinctive and longer-lasting.

In fact, it seems that the journey into Movement Lesson stemming from the realisation of the profoundly positive effect it had/has on their personal lives, is a common theme.
As previously mentioned, the founder, Michelle, started Movement Lesson upon seeing her son’s developmental progress. But, also, members of Michelle’s team – practitioners, Felipe and Claudia – got into this line of work wanting to help others experience the benefits of Movement Lesson that they themselves had felt so impressed by.

Her son was also the inspiration behind Claudia wanting to get involved with Movement Lesson; after bringing him to a session with Michelle several years ago, she knew she had to not only find out more but also get involved first-hand!
Felipe was due to have shoulder surgery, after having previously tried a number of more ‘typical’ methods following a sporting injury, but thought to give Movement Lesson a try just days beforehand: “It amazed me how, after one session, gentle touch is what took my pain away.” 


So, it’s not only for children – adults benefit, too; likewise, it’s not only for those with disabilities – or even injuries –
everyone can benefit from moving better, (you’d be surprised how many people don’t move optimally when they’re doing everyday tasks)!

See more about who Movement Lesson can be for later on in this blog.

No smoke & mirrors here…

For many, parents in particular, judgement on what is a ‘successful’ therapy is often based on the level of apparent change and the speed within which it can be noticed. With this, many times, can come a willingness – or higher level of tolerance – to accept techniques which can sometimes seem quite extreme. You’ve heard the expression, ‘bigger isn’t always better’, right? Well, neither is faster. For one, elaborate methods that happen quickly don’t necessarily lead to successful results that are long-lasting.
What’s more, there are ways in which one can just make it look as though a result has been achieved – by holding a child in a certain position, for example.
Many therapists are aware of this ‘trickery’, and how to conduct it, but why would you want to abuse the time, money and trust of vulnerable, often desperate, parents? Especially when, instead, you have genuine & authentic, simple & safe, and comfortable interventions that work? That’s what you get with Movement Lesson – and all interventions at Blue Skies – an effective therapy with sustainable results. 

Key areas of the body where better movements can help with developmental progress:

  • Vision: vision and movement actually go hand in hand; so, improving your child’s ability to see will aid in their development. In order to have more possibilities in movement development, a child must have visual maturity. Simply put, if a child’s head moves with their eyes, then their vision is immature; when a child’s eyes are able to move independently from the head, that is when they have established mature vision. (By the age of 1yr-14mnths a child’s vision should be mature).

The video below shows Felipe, from Movement Lesson, demonstrating the difference between mature and immature vision:

The ability of the eyes to work together, (binocular vision), and then to go from near to far and vice versa, (have convergence), will be key to the coordination of movement through the spine & pelvis. 

  • Spine: when you have an injury to – or struggle with functional movement in – another body part, such as the foot or hand, you are going to try and compensate and it is your back which will take this load. So it’s important that the spine stays loose, strong & with movements synchronised.

    Check out this video from Movement Lesson™:  30 seconds on how you can help somebody with Scoliosis:
  • Hips & Pelvis: the pelvis is central to every movement, so work on the pelvis is crucial, whether you’re wanting to initiate or improve functional movement. To be completely successful, all movements – from rolling over and standing, to pulling tongues and even writing – require use of the pelvis.

     

  • Toe Walking: this is a sign of an individual’s inability to transfer weight through their foot.
    As previously mentioned, functional movement – where one can get in and out of, or transition between, two movements – is key; and weight transfer, as well as counterbalance and rotation, is necessary to make it possible. 

So, who is Movement Lesson UK for?

  • Children born via c-section: these babies miss the rotational forces that happen upon being born through the birth canal. Their first relationship with gravity not being via rotation is likely to mean that movements in some body parts may be somewhat restricted. This can have a negative impact on cognitive development, as unrestricted movements are key to this. 
  • Genetic/Undiagnosed Conditions: many genetic conditions can affect movement, for example causing a lack of balance, coordination and control.
    Others may be failing to meet movement milestones, yet the causes of these delays/restrictions may be unknown due to a lack of diagnosis. A Movement Lesson assessment can help identify parts of the body that may be areas of concern and thus benefit from intervention; and maintaining Movement Lesson sessions can help the body develop better control.
  • Behavioural Disorders: stabilising and calming the body’s system is a by-product of Movement Lesson’s key aim – to promote functional movement. Encouraging messages from the brain to reach intended areas of the body can reduce frustration levels that are felt when one feels a lack of control over their own body, whilst the gentle touch and client-centred approach also has a calming effect.
  • Elderly: a lack of rotation is associated with cognitive decline. Therefore, the improvement of rotation via Movement Lesson can help slow down the effects of old age and improve quality of life.
  •  Hip Dysplasia/Subluxation: hip dysplasia is when the hip is dislocated and subluxation is a severe form of this. The problems with placement and/or pain this causes restricts the level of movement that is possible, which actually prevents hip formation. Movement Lesson helps imitate the necessary movements, via rotation and weight transfer, strengthening the hip areas.
    Movement Lesson can also act as pre-surgery preparation and increase the speed and effectiveness of post-surgery rehabilitation.
  • Cerebral Palsy: this is a neurological condition affecting movement and coordination. Therefore, Movement Lesson’s work on functional movement – through gentle touch, weight transfer and rotation – can help messages from the brain, which may be misfiring, actually reach the intended areas of the body. This can help to calm the uncontrollable and uncoordinated movements common in those with CP. 

Scott’s Session Approach/Structure:-

In keeping with the purpose and nature of Movement Lesson, and it being client-centred, the way sessions are structured and approached is tailored to the individual and their needs and goals. 


For Scott, first sessions always begin with the client lying on the massage table, to conduct an initial assessment and get a general overview of particular areas of need. 


Further beyond this, how sessions look may be influenced by factors such as age and personality. For instance, if it is a young child who is more receptive to play, and maybe has a particular activity that they like to do, then Scott will work to create an environment that incorporates this, so that he can achieve all the targets and goals he had set for the session, whilst simultaneously making it enjoyable for this child and thus encouraging them to engage with the session even more. So, whereas previously you might have experienced therapies having quite a ‘serious’/’formal’ approach, Scott welcomes you to engage and interact with your child whilst he works his magic; this creates a fun, warm and effective therapy environment for all involved.

Scott’s passion for, and knowledge about, his practice is evident and abundant and he has a very reassuring nature as a practitioner.

 

This is one of the main things that makes Movement Lesson a positive, refreshing change to more traditional therapies. Whilst these tend to work on the basis that the client should work around, and adapt to, the therapy – and don’t seem to place much importance on the individual actually enjoying the sessions – Movement Lesson really prioritises the client’s experience.

My first(-hand) experience of Movement Lesson UK: a client’s POV.

Before Blue Skies, I had never even heard of Movement Lesson. Then I had a very basic idea of what it was & what it involved, based on learning the basic definition, purpose & approach. Yet still, especially given that it was prior to me conducting my research for this blog, I went into my first session with little to no preconceptions or expectations.

 

In fact, even though I knew what Movement Lesson worked on, and that many clients it was helping had similar physical limitations to myself, (born via C-section, Cerebral Palsy & hypertonia), I hadn’t really given much thought to how the approaches could apply to my needs and help me, personally.
But, knowing that this holistic therapy had the capacity to do so, and trusting the informed intuition of the multidisciplinary team at Blue Skies, I was open to it.

I would say my first main impression was surprise at how gentle and comfortable it was! I hope this wasn’t because I had subconsciously come to expect some level of pain/discomfort with therapy, but when chronic pain becomes part of the territory of your daily life anyway, I suppose this is a very real possibility.

I think I’d also fallen victim to believing the saying, ‘no pain, no gain’ – because how could something so pain-free really be that effective?

But, wow, Movement Lesson UK changed my perspective on this. Whilst initially opening up my eyes to just how much restriction there was in my lower body and, also, the level of disparity between the stiffness level on each side, the week of my first session I noticed just how much easier it felt to move! 


A particular problem area I have is in my left hip, (and then obviously tension in my left leg can stem from this). Before any intervention from Movement Lesson UK, I could often feel a burning sensation in the joint, like it could have been inflamed; movements also felt ‘clunky’, more effortful and restricted; and any clicks felt similar: more ‘dull’ and like a crunch, closer to the hip ‘grinding’, as though there were fragments in the joint that were interfering with an effective release of air that is meant to be the result of a click.

In the days following my first session, it was like my hip had been ‘cleared out’ almost; I didn’t notice any of the uncomfortable burning sensation, it was less effort to move and clicking in the hip felt clear, open and effective. Scott was actually able to put words to something I didn’t even realise I had been trying to describe, after experiencing it: ‘movements felt lighter’ – even slightly more floaty – more towards how I imagine most people should be able to move, when they are moving properly and their movements are functional.

Come the second session and already the difference was undeniable, and noticeable almost immediately, within the first few movements! There was less resistance from my muscles and movements were able to be taken further and made larger.

I even still wondered, approaching sessions beyond this, whether there was such a noticeable change after the first session because there was so much scope for improvement, from the level of spasticity in my body to begin with. Once this already felt as though it had been so effectively reduced by Scott in the first hour, could there really be that much follow-up progress noticed?

Simple answer? Yes.

In my time
between sessions, they were helping to maintain a better level of movement, and reduced the level of pain and discomfort in the hip. Then back in sessions progress could be identified, maintained and even made further.


Overall, I may have first questioned whether I was more surprised and impressed by how painless a therapy could be, or how quickly such a positive change could be noticed. But I soon realised that, actually, I was surprised by the co-existence of the two: how could a therapy, which felt so painless and gentle be so effective, so quickly?

It was safe to say this was a combination I had never experienced, (and didn’t know anyone could), in all the interventions I had been given as a child, but it is definitely one that I’m sure many parents and children alike will be glad does exist!

I hope this blog has helped:-

  •  To give you an introduction to what Movement Lesson is;
  • You to realise what a wide range of people and problem areas can be helped by the gentle touch of this alternative, holistic approach to therapy and
  • Encouraged you to find out more about Movement Lesson if you think it could be beneficial.

— Olivia

 

 

Ways to Get in Touch:

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References:-

 

Movement Lesson TM. 2021. Home. [Online]. [Accessed 6 August 2021]. Available from: https://www.movementlesson.academy/

 

Movement Lesson UK. [no date]. Movement Lesson UK: My Story. [Online]. [Accessed 10 August 2021]. Available from: https://movementlessonuk.co.uk/my-story/

 

Movement Lesson TM. ca. 2020. Meet Our Team. [Online]. [Accessed August 17 2021]. Available from: https://www.movementlesson.academy/about-us

 

Movement Lesson TM. 2021. Facts About Eyes and Vision – Vision and Development Correlelation. 03 March. Movement Lesson Academy Blog. [Online]. [Accessed 25 August 2021]. Available from: https://www.movementlesson.academy/blog/facts-about-eyes-and-vision

 

movementlesson. 2021. Immature Vision vs. Mature Vision – How to Improve Vision Exercises in Cognitive Vision Training. [Online]. [Accessed 25 August 2021]. Available from: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6SHTOpimfIo

 

movementlesson. 2021. Working on the Spine. [Online] [Accessed 26 August 2021]. Available from: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fPpAiiMA4KE

 

movementlesson. 2021. 

How to Help Scoliosis in 30 SECONDS – Back Exercises for Scoliosis, How to Help Someone w/ Scoliosis. [Online]. [Accessed 26 August 2021]. Available from: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2KBeE6WMZ4g

 

Movement Lesson TM. 2021. Blog. [Online]. [Accessed 26 August 2021]. Available from: https://www.movementlesson.academy/blog

 

Movement Lesson TM. 2021. How to Stop Tip Toe Walking without Casts or Shoes. 03 March. Movement Lesson Academy Blog. [Online]. [Accessed 26 March 2021]. Available from: https://www.movementlesson.academy/blog/stop-tip-toe-walking

Movement Lesson UK. [no date]. Movement Lesson UK: Who’s It For? [Online]. [Accessed 26 August 2021]. Available from: https://movementlessonuk.co.uk/research/

Blue Skies Ahead. 2021. Contact Us. [Online]. [Accessed 06 September 2021].  Available from: https://blueskiesahead.org.uk/contact-us/ 


Movement Lesson UK. [no date]. Contact. [Online]. [Accessed 06 September 2021]. Available from: https://movementlessonuk.co.uk/contact-page/

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