Developmental Movement Patterning

Domain: Mind / Body | Mechanics | Knowledge

DMP is a mind-body technique, a practice that can help you to better understand the interplay between intention and consciousness in our bodies.  Within the realm of Somatic studies, DMP is the study of quintessential, foundational movements that underlie all future movement potentials and skills.

We begin forging these movements in our mother’s womb and continue to master and integrate each through our elementary years.  As the movement scenarios become ingrained into our bodies, brains, and movement repertoires they are patterned into our fascial system.  These patterns are not all subtle, rather quite fractal.  They are reiterated over and over again in various systems of the body.  We can see them in the hugely visible structures and the microscopic ones expressing the same order.  Their geometric efficiency is tangibly displayed in all fascial structures. Accumulated movement patterns reinforce and dynamically forge the tensegrity principle of all fascia.

The efficiency and fluidity with which we can call forth developmental movement patterns and express them represents a metaphysical and metaphorical vantage point for viewing our movement capabilities, restrictions, disease, and dysfunction.  An integrated individual would be able to easily break down each pattern to its primary elements and move from pattern to pattern.  An integrated individual can isolate the primary patterns in more complicated movements and use each to facilitate optimal outcomes.

This can be an athlete needing the extra fine-tuning to increase their game or the patient looking to decrease pain and increase range of motion.  This can be done using imagery, engaging no movement or effort at all; or it can be done anywhere along the continuum of exertion from gentle movement driven by the breath to cardiovascular, endurance-driven workouts.  The premise is always the same.

DMP DEFINED:  Developmental Movement Patterning is an area of focus within Body-Mind Centering (a formal branch of Somatics), which was pioneered by Bonnie Bainbridge Cohen in the 1970s.  The premise holds that development is not linear; it overlaps itself with each stage containing elements of all other stages.  The study of DMP includes primitive reflexes, righting reactions, equilibrium responses, and basic developmental/neurological patterns.  These developmental movement patterns are thought to be the automatic movement responses that underlie all voluntary movement possibilities for an individual.  Developmental patterns establish basic movement patterns and therefore the basic elements of movement, learning, and communication.

The patterns progress from spinal movements (establishing the sagittal plane), to top-bottom, or homologous (establishing the transverse plane), to side-side, or homolateral (establishing the coronal, or frontal, plane), and finally to 3-dimensional, or contralateral movement, which integrates all three planes of movement and allows for diagonal movements within the body and therefore also throughout space.


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Melinda Cooksey Bekos, MS, PhD

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