Beginner’s Guide to Anatomy in Motion

Beginner’s Guide to Anatomy in Motion

The human body is an amazing machine, built to run non-stop for decades. And just like any other machine, your body needs maintenance, the occasional tuneup, and sometimes a minor or major repair.

If you think of your body as an automobile, anatomy would describe its various parts and their location. Physiology would describe the various chemical processes involved in energy production, exhaust emission and temperature control. And biomechanics would describe the way the various parts interact mechanically to keep you moving.

However, we can only carry our automobile analogy so far. Every human body has an anatomical blueprint that is as unique as your face or your fingerprints. And while we all share certain anatomical characteristics in common, no two people move in identical ways. Moreover, unlike an automobile, the human body has an amazing capacity to heal itself.

What is Anatomy in Motion?

Anatomy in Motion (AIM) is a movement-based therapeutic approach to healing that helps your body find its own optimal alignment for smooth and unrestricted movement. It is a holistic approach based on the premise that everything is connected and interdependent. When something is imbalanced or out of alignment in one area of your body, it affects your entire organism.

What is Anatomy in Motion?

AIM gives you the tools and exercises you need to reintroduce your body to optimal movement, based on three fundamental rules of motion:

  • Muscles lengthen before they contract: The idea that muscle contraction begins and ends with the muscle at rest is erroneous. In fact, the degree of contraction is dependent on the degree of muscle lengthening, which in turn depends on the degree of flexion in the associated joint. If I want my gluteal muscles to fully contract, I must first perform hip flexion, adduction and internal rotation to fully lengthen the glutes. When joints are unable to move through their full range of motion, muscles cannot fully contract. AIM reorganizes the body in ways that give every muscle no option but to contract.
  • Joints act and muscles react: Most people assume that joint function is dependent on muscle contraction, but in fact it works the other way around. When your joints move, your muscles contract to stabilize and protect them. When you access a joint, contraction occurs in every muscle associated with it. AIM focuses on quality of movement in the joints, not in the muscles. When the joint performs well, the muscles fall into line.
  • Everything orbits around center: Your center of gravity lies in your belly, somewhere near the junction of your fourth and fifth lumbar vertebrae. Your body is centered, or neutral, when at rest and standing in anatomical alignment, and every joint has a central point. When in motion, your joints pass through their center from one extreme to the other, leaving their center and then returning to it. Your perception of center is regulated by your brain, and can be altered in response to injury. We need to retrain the brain in order to reintroduce the joints to find their true center.
  • Perceived center dictates movement, posture, pain and potential: Our perception of what feels like “normal” movement may not be optimal. There is often a disconnect between what our brain perceives as comfortable versus what is ideal. Your perception of center is regulated by your brain, and can be altered in response to injury. We need to retrain the brain in order to reintroduce the joints to find their true center, to achieve good posture, alleviate pain and realize our performance potential.
  • Perfection is hardwired and preinstalled: Fundamental to AIM is the assertion that our bodies innately know how to achieve and maintain ideal movement. This concept is also foundational to dynamic neuromuscular stabilization therapy (DNS) that taps into the innately programmed instincts that guide an infant’s development throughout the first year of life. In essence, we simply need to remind our bodies of how to access what they already know.

Gary Ward, the founder of AIM, believes that the body can heal itself, and he encourages people to take ownership of their own bodies. When attempting to restore balance and promote symmetry, most trainers and therapists pay attention to muscle strengthening and stretching. By contrast, AIM focuses on changing your body’s perception of center, or neutral, position. It trains you to “feel” movement in order to set yourself free from pain and restricted mobility.

The Flow Motion Model

The Flow Motion Model

Underpinning AIM is the Flow Motion Model. Throughout the human walking gait cycle, every joint in your body moves in three planes of motion, and that motion occurs in sequence with the joints above and below it. The flow motion model recognizes that there are specific optimal joint motions that refine joint mechanics in relation to other joints. When one or more joints loses its optimal movement, it can cause pain in other parts of the body that cannot be eradicated until the faulty joint movement is corrected.

Treating a specific area of pain with foam rolling, stretching, massage, medications, steroid injections or even surgery may provide temporary relief. But until you identify and address the joints that have lost their way, your pain and dysfunction are bound to return. The Flow Motion Model looks for errant joints and reeducates them to move and function in harmony with their neighbors, thus restoring pain-free functional movement.

The flow motion model is about reestablishing efficiency and fluidity in joint movement, which in turn enables you to develop more power, strength and flexibility. While traditional training and therapy approaches can take months, the flow motion model can restore ideal movement patterns in just minutes by changing what the body does and when it does it.

Body Alignment and Human Health

Body Alignment and Human Health

To revisit our automobile analogy for a moment, when one part of your car is out of alignment, it affects the collective whole. For example, if your front wheels are out of alignment, it will inflict wear and tear on your tires, cause your car to shimmy and rattle its parts loose, increase the amount of fuel you burn and decrease the overall mechanical efficiency or your vehicle.

The same applies to human movement. If you have chronic pain in your right knee, your body will automatically realign itself to shift some of the workload to your left leg. In the process, you alter your spinal and pelvic alignment, overload the structures of your left leg, rearrange your upper body posture and set yourself up for a host of miseries later in life.

Gary believes that 90 percent of pain issues come from some type of injury, however minor, during your lifespan. Even if you cannot recall being treated for an injury, just think of all the times during childhood when you wiped out on your skateboard, fell off your bike or had a playground accident that left you bruised and bloodied. Those microtraumas produce protective neural changes in your central nervous system that alter your sense of center, and their effects can resurface years later to cause pain and dysfunction.

In addition to postural and mechanical changes, being out of alignment creates muscle tension, and tension places stress on your circulatory, lymph and neural systems, inhibiting the flow of fluids and neural signals throughout your body, and contributing to pain and metabolic dysfunction.

We attribute many of the aches, pains and mobility issues we experience as adults to the natural consequences of aging. But pain and dysfunction are not natural. They are your body’s way of telling you that something is out of alignment. Not only do they affect the way you move, but they impact your self-perception and overall health.

How AIM Promotes Healing

How AIM Promotes Healing

Most of us go from day to day performing the same tasks in the same ways without giving much thought to how we move. AIM raises your consciousness of everyday movement patterns, making you aware of inefficient motor strategies and harmful postures. The goal of AIM is to give your joints equal access to every point in all three planes of human movement, so that every joint is able to move without restriction toward its end range of motion. Repetitive motion from sports, exercise and everyday activities throws your body out of balance, undermining symmetrical movement. Before long, we begin to “own” our limitations, broadcasting to the world that we have a bum knee or a bad back.

If you go to a conventional medical practitioner for knee pain, they are going to examine and treat your knee. They are unlikely to analyze your gait, assess your posture or look for imbalanced motor patterns in your upper body. In fact, in many cases, if a doctor does anything other than treat your knee, they may not be reimbursed by your insurance provider. Needless to say, if your knee pain is caused by gait deficiencies, the doctor will not be able to help you heal — they will only be able to “manage” your condition, quite possibly for the remainder of your life.

AIM therapy focuses on reestablishing balance in your body and restoring it to a pain-free space by creating an environment for healing. AIM looks at your entire body from the tips of your toes to the crown of your head to see which joint movements are missing, and where your body has created compensation patterns. AIM is about finding what’s missing, and then reintroducing your joints to their neutral center, to restore functional movement. AIM provides you with the tools you need to heal your body so it can move as it was designed to move.

How We Find What’s Missing

How We Find What’s Missing

Foot mechanics is the foundation of Anatomy in Motion. During walking, the foot is the only part of the body in contact with the ground, and movement is governed from the foot upward. If you have faulty foot mechanics, it can translate upward to your knees, hips, pelvis and spine, overloading your joints and forcing them out of alignment. Pain can manifest in the lower extremities, pelvis and low back, and it can also appear higher up the kinetic chain in your upper back, neck and shoulder girdle.

Your brain relies heavily on messages transmitted from proprioceptors in your feet to make decisions about muscle recruitment and firing patterns throughout the rest of your body. Faulty mechanics in your foot affect all the other joints in your body. AIM therapy begins with assessing how your feet make contact with the ground, and then assesses how they align relative to your pelvis, ribcage and skull, and all the structures that attach them together, in three dimensions.


We evaluate your static and dynamic posture, use force plates to evaluate weight distribution, foot pressure and center of mass, and conduct a 3D gait analysis to evaluate the quality of your walking gait. We then use manual therapy and specific corrective exercises to reintroduce balanced movement to the joints throughout your body.

The Role of Gait Analysis

The Role of Gait Analysis

All of your body structures play a distinct role in gait, and every joint in your body moves in all three dimensions at each moment in the gait cycle, which lasts roughly from 6 to 8 seconds. If one or more joints is not doing its job, it disrupts the entire cycle.

Throughout the gait cycle, all the joints in your body, from your toes to your skull, move in synchronicity. If your gait is optimal, joint movement is harmonious, your gait is fluid and your weight distribution is balanced. Three dimensional gait analysis gives us a picture of what each muscle, tendon, ligament and joint is doing — or not doing — when the entire body is in motion.

Past injuries, surgeries, postural habits and repetitive motion can cause the body to compensate, rearranging the distribution of muscle and gravitational forces. Over time, compensation patterns become habitual due to neuroplastic changes within the central nervous system. Altered loading patterns lead to mechanical changes that affect the entire body.

Gait analysis helps us to pinpoint faulty motor patterns so we can begin to retrain the brain and the body to restore alignment, so your body can move in the way it is intended to.

The Benefits of AIM Therapy

The Benefits of AIM Therapy

AIM is a holistic approach that addresses all the structures involved in human movement at the same time.

  • AIM restores functional joint range of motion relative to all other joints, so that muscles have no choice but to act in the most ideal 3-dimensional way.
  • At the same time, the fascia that encases muscle tissue is optimally loaded, and it remodels itself to accommodate ideal movement.
  • AIM automatically retrains the brain and central nervous system to optimally control joint movement in reaction to gravity.

Once your joints find their true center and ideal movement is restored, AIM enhances your performance in other physical activities so you can reap their full benefits without pain or limitation.

Who Can Benefit from AIM?

Very few people have perfect alignment, and anyone can benefit from AIM therapy. AIM can especially help certain people realize dramatic changes in the way they move and feel:

  • People with chronic pain that have not had success with other therapies and treatments
  • People with mobility issues or motor imbalances who want to restore pain-free functional movement
  • Athletes recovering from injuries who need to reestablish optimal movement patterns for peak performance
  • People with pain or limited range of motion after surgery, pregnancy, automobile accidents or other disruptive events
  • Older adults who want to improve balance and reduce the risk of falls and injury

Deep down, your body knows how to move. It simply needs to be reminded of the many movement options available, so it can heal itself and choose better movement strategies for a better quality of life.

Anatomy in Motion in NYC

Pain and dysfunction are not natural, and you do not need to accept them as the norm. The sports medicine specialists at NYDNRehab use AIM and other innovative methods to get to the root of pain and eradicate it for good. Contact us today, and get your body moving the way it was intended to, without pain and stiffness, so you can live your very best life in motion.

About the Author

Dr. Lev Kalika is clinical director of NYDNRehab, located in Manhattan. Lev Kalika is the author of multiple medical publications and research, and an international expert in the field of rehabilitative sonography, ultrasound guided dry needling and sports medicine Dr. Kalika works with athletes, runners, dancers and mainstream clients to relieve pain, rehabilitate injuries, enhance performance and minimize the risk of injuries. His clinic features some of the most technologically advanced equipment in the world, rarely found in a private clinic.


In this instance, an athlete was originally diagnosed with minor quadriceps muscle strain and was treated for four weeks, with unsatisfactory results. When he came to our clinic, the muscle was not healing, and the patients’ muscle tissue had already begun to atrophy.

Upon examination using MSUS, we discovered that he had a full muscle thickness tear that had been overlooked by his previous provider. To mitigate damage and promote healing, surgery should have been performed immediately after the injury occurred. Because of misdiagnosis and inappropriate treatment, the patient now has permanent damage that cannot be corrected.

The most important advantage of Ultrasound over MRI imaging is its ability to zero in on the symptomatic region and obtain imaging, with active participation and feedback from the patient. Using dynamic MSUS, we can see what happens when patients contract their muscles, something that cannot be done with MRI. From a diagnostic perspective, this interaction is invaluable.

Dynamic ultrasonography examination demonstrating
the full thickness tear and already occurring muscle atrophy
due to misdiagnosis and not referring the patient
to proper diagnostic workup

Demonstration of how very small muscle defect is made and revealed
to be a complete tear with muscle contraction
under diagnostic sonography (not possible with MRI)


Complete tear of rectus femoris
with large hematoma (blood)


Separation of muscle ends due to tear elicited
on dynamic sonography examination

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