QYP 17: MARK MCGRATH ON FUNCTIONAL MOVEMENT, BREATHING AND DNS
Mark McGrath, B Ed, Grad Dip in Ex and Sp Sci, Post Grad Seminar in Treatment and Prevention of Soft Tissue Dysfunction.
Advanced Coach: Strength & Conditioning. Advanced Coach: Tennis. Breathing Integration Teacher
Over the last 15 years, I have been experimenting with an optimal approach to freedom in movement by understanding the forces acting on the body, coupled with the investigation of the body from within.
When I look at the directionality of my career, it is evident how I have been influenced in my thinking by important pioneers who have been original thinkers and stimulated by understanding the fundamental aspects of human functioning and its relationship to their particular discipline.
My professional investigation started in exercise science and resistance training and expanded to encompass the field of movement, and the development of form. As upright organisms, the movement problem we need to solve is how to take a step without a lateral lean strategy, and to be aware of how our global strategy changes as we age. The big picture solution lies in the understanding of central control of breath, movement and stability.
In evolving my own approach I have sat with open-ended enquiry, while looking from a cross-cultural and trans-discipline perspective to integrate information that is global or whole. This post-conventional view is interested in integrating elements, so that the whole is understood.
This forms the basis for creating practices to suit people and their situation because what is being worked with is central. When one considers Foundational Health as our birthright, it becomes clear that the important practices we need in daily living will involve breath awareness, postural stability, and a practical means for checking in with ones functioning directly.
The event that triggered my own transformation in terms of the work I was doing with athletes and physical preparation programs was a workshop I attended with Professor Janda from the Czech Republic in 1998 on Motor Control. Janda’s central message was that the brain gets its information from the body and that if we want the best possible movement, we need to give the brain the best possible information. Since then I have studied with the lineage of Czech Pioneers in the following areas; Muscle Balance and Motor Control with Professor Janda. Developmental Kinesiology and Locomotor System Postural Function with Professor Kolar and Breathing Mechanics and Postural Stabilisation with Jiri Cumpelik PH.D.
In Australia I have worked intensively with Vern McMillan, Jim Chim, Wayne Haynes, Jill Cook, David Darbyshire, Andrew Russell, David Lasini, Gavin Bryant and Scott & Mitch Barrow in the areas of Physical Preparation, Injury Prevention and Rehabilitation for Performance.
I have been inspired by two teachers who are the embodiment of their respective art forms. Glenn Ceresoli in Yoga and Sensei Joe Thambu in Aikido. I am also grateful for the 5 years spent discussing and experimenting with this approach that I was afforded with the time spent with Wayne Haynes. Wayne’s investigation and subsequent clarity of deep system awareness is unparalleled.
My background in this area started in 1995 at the Victorian Institute of Sport, where I worked with State, National, International and Olympic level athletes in the area of Physical Preparation until 2002. In 1996 I began working with the AIS Tennis Program being responsible for the athletes’ physical preparation and providing training and treatment during competition. This included being Physical Preparation Consultant to Tennis Australia from 2000-2003.
In 2003, I started with Bluearth Foundation as Program/Coach Development Manager responsible for the design of the worlds first Integral Movement Education Approach and training the Coach Team who have trained teachers to deliver the approach. There have been over 30,000 children who have undertaken the program in Australia.
My work now involves an integrated approach to freedom in movement combining postural stability, breath awareness and neuromuscular coordination. The practical aspect of this view that we work with is an understanding that ones breathing, walking pattern and dominances are central to how all movement is performed.
In our sessions together we learn to apply the scientific method subjectively, so that one learns to observe and work with self. This learning is essential if our goal is to take responsibility for full function through a life-span.