For the purpose of this blog post I am going to borrow the definition of reciprocal movement from the pathways.org webpage. It defines reciprocal movement as being “Movement of both the arms and/or both legs at the same time but in opposite directions (e.g. crawling, or arm swing in walking). Reference: https://pathways.org/glossary/reciprocal-movement/

When it comes to strength and conditioning training in the gym we will often see reciprocal movement in activities that involve stepping, lunging, walking etc. However when we look at the upper body and traditional strength and conditioning exercises such as the vertical and horizontal push and pull patterns, it is quite rare to see reciprocal push and pull patterns performed. In the video below you will see osteopath Heath Williams of Principle Four Osteopathy demonstrating how you might apply the reciprocal movement patterns to the horizontal and vertical push and pull patterns.

Some of the differences between a reciprocal push and pull movement compared to the traditional double arm or single arm push/pull movement is that one might argue that it is more challenging to coordinate the reciprocal pattern compared to the stable double arm push and pull pattern. It is likely that the trunk is also reacting to the reciprocal arm movement compared to the often deliberately stabilised trunk and therefore the body perhaps moves more akin to what we do in real life at times. It is likely though that one will have to reduce external load used with reciprocal movements initially though compared to the rigid and stable trunk with bilateral push and pull movements.

From my perspective as an osteopath who works with clients of all backgrounds, I would say that both have benefits and rather than say one approach is better than the other, the question we need to ask is what are we hoping to achieve with that particular exercise and that variation (doing both) perhaps is important because both have benefits and will ask the body to have to adapt.

This blog post was written by osteopath Heath Williams of Principle Four Osteopathy. If you are interested in finding out more about how to integrate active approaches into your everyday life, be it for health and wellbeing, rehab or performance, please book online to see one of our team.

Principle Four Osteopathy is located on Level 4 at 178 Collins St Melbourne City CBD. Book an appointment online or call us on 0396709290.

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