SROMP stands for “Soft Range of Motion Practice”. I first used this name for the practice in the basic workouts.
SROMP is about exploring the range of motion of the joints and bringing it to life. We make the range of motion usable. This happens physically - we move the tissue, thus keeping it supple (use it or lose it, we’ll get to that in the principles) - but we also make the range of motion available to us coordinatively.
So, SROMP is physical and cognitive.
It’s about health and it’s about freedom of movement.
On the physiological plane, we know that joint structures are only really nourished through movement. They work like a sponge. Through movement, substances are transported to and from them. Accordingly, inactivity is disastrous to our joints. It leads to a lack of proper metabolism in the joints, and our bodies also adapt to the inactivity. Joints ossify and become less mobile. Pains appear.
The architectural and societal structure in western countries causes considerable movement-poverty there.
That, of course, applies above all to people who work at desks. But artisans and construction workers suffer too. They often repeat the same movements a lot or strain themselves too much. The compensatory movement is lacking. The structural balance. The alternation between soft and hard movements.
Staying physically active is not equivalent to using our full range of movement.
For more information on movement diversity, see my article on the subject, which I link to at the end of this article.
In the SROMP, the goal is to use our range of motion, thus keeping our joints and the structures they attach to healthy.
“SROMP is very healing”, practitioners tell me again and again.
But, as previously implied, SROMP doesn’t only affect the physical plane.
SROMP is also about learning new movements. Throughout the levels, these movements will progressively become more coordinatively difficult.
SROMP creates a basic vocabulary and grammar of movement. This base equipment will make it easier to learn more complex and intensive movements.
Interestingly, in neuro-athletics, which bases its approach on the way the brain functions - the same exercises as in our SROMP (among others) are used.
For SROMP we use a structure that organizes the movements coordinatively.
Because of this, we organize the movements in different planes and geometrical shapes.
These are points, lines, straight, crooked, circles, eights, waves.
These take place in a three-dimensional space, which we divide into the three planes transversal, sagittal and coronal (frontal).David Richfield and Mikael Häggström, M.D. and cmglee, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons
Gliding, rotating and tilting movements emerge.
The decision about what moves and what doesn’t move is coordinatively absolutely fundamental in SROMP. This ability to decide creates great freedom of movement since it allows us to continually create new configurations, ergo movements.
Understanding the principle of open and closed chains is essential for deciding what moves and what does not. This principle is permanently present in our SROMP plans, and is labeled as OKC (Open Kinetic Chain) and CKC (Closed Kinetic chain).
Furthermore, SROMP is an invitation to increase movement diversity in life. Practitioners will, throughout the SROMP levels, learn hundreds of basic movements. The real highlight is, however, the idea of microvariations. This idea comes through in our work in SROMP and in stretching, strength training, coordination training, etc.
The principle is: Once you’ve understood the basic movement, search for microvariations. The core principle of the movement stays the same, but you can change everything else.
Thinking aids are: Different positions in space and in the joints. Different speeds, tensions and amplitudes. Different settings in terms of movement and stillness (what moves, what doesn’t).
So SROMP is healing and creates freedom, because one learns the basics of the “movement language” through the practice (one part of the basics, not the only part.
What does “Soft” in SROMP stand for? SROMP can be exhausting. Muscularly and coordinatively. But the risk of injury is very low in SROMP. The exercises are selected as to ensure that little pressure is put on the joints. Accordingly, it’s relatively difficult to do too much SROMP.
SROMP is indeed difficult because to perform the movements well, one needs to concentrate, to be in the now. But very little pressure is put on the joints.
Therefore, SROMP is a practice that can be performed by 18-year-olds as well as by 80-year-olds. Practitioners of all ages tell us about the healing effects of SROMP and about the understanding of movement it creates. SROMP is an accordingly important part of our physical training and is especially present in our basics training.
The "use it or lose it" principle:
"Use it or lose it" also means that we maintain our movement capabilities through movement. We adapt to what we do. On the other hand, we lose that which we don't use. Because: Even if we don't move, we adapt; we become people who do not move. Our tissues harden and we lose our mobility. Our adaptability is a two-edged sword. In us is an entire cosmos of possibilities. But those who don't choose movement inescapably choose the opposite. Those who want to stay healthy need to move diversely. Our range of movements is too monotonous. Therefore, these plans are constructed in a way as to contain many different movements. An important factor in maintaining health. Many of our pains stem from a lack of movement diversity. There is no shortcut that lets you skip movement diversity.
The "the dose makes the poison" principle:
Many people have heard that certain movements are unhealthy and should not be performed. I disagree. The stigmatization of movements as unhealthy is a blunt simplification of the complex reality: no movement is bad per se. It can however be that too high a dose for a given time is bad. On the other hand: too low a dose can be problematic as well. Just like in nutrition it's about correct dosages. We need the right amount of minerals. A deficiency can create just as much damage as an overdose. Thus, it's all about finding the balance. Let's use the bending of the knee below 90° as an example. In many conventional fitness studios, it's still believed that deep squats are destructive for the joints. Because of this a problem of underdosing arises: the knees keep getting stiffer if the trainee never goes below 90°. This leads to pain and to weak, injury-prone knees. Many people have however barely done anything in the deep squat for many years, and they will need to be carefully brought back to the position. Use it or lose it. The chair is the big destroyer of mobility here. In cultural settings where the deep squat is part of everyday life (especially Asian and African cultures), more people maintain good leg mobility. The dose makes the poison. The dose makes the healing.
The principle of deciding over movement and stillness:
Every time we move, we make decisions regarding what moves and how. I am writing these lines on the computer and deciding which fingers to move and which not to, to write words and sentences. So when I want to perform specific movements, I need to have the ability to make decisions. One can look at such complex movements as the javelin throw in track and field, where the spear is held immobile over the head during the run-up and then at the right time brought into position and thrown. Even when running we usually make decisions regarding what moves and what doesn't: when we run forwards, the head stays typically in one position, while the chest below it rotates to the right and the left. Decisions regarding mobile and immobile parts are made in every purposeful movement. What is moved and what doesn't can be changed very quickly: one can picture a pianist who is continuously changing which fingers to move and whether the wrist stays in place or is brought over to other keys. The element of "time" is of great importance here.
Principle: purposeful movement presupposes that I can make decisions about what moves and what stays still.
Sub principle: complex movements further presuppose that I can change the settings quickly, meaning that I can fluently change back and forth between movement and stillness.
The principle of coupling and uncoupling:
This principle is a sub principle of the above. It describes how movements are always combinations of partial movements, and that we perform particular movements through tying together specific partial movements. It's equally important to be able to separate movements from one another as it is to be able to combine them. In our everyday lives, we use movement patterns which we have practices thousands of times, which are automatically called upon and performed without cognitive effort. Someone calls out behind you, and you turn around. You likely won't think about how you turn around; you'll instead just do it. You'll probably use a pattern which you have already used thousands of times, and most likely it'll be the same or one of very few patterns. We thus repeatedly perform the same movements in our everyday lives. If we slow things down, however, we notice that there are other possibilities in terms of how we turn around and look backwards. We can rotate the chest and move the eyes in the direction, while keeping the vertebrae of the neck still, like someone who is paralyzed in the neck would. Or we could bend forwards and look through our legs backwards. There are countless possibilities, big and small variations, of how we can look backwards. Connecting the right parts creates efficient movement.
Throwing is an excellent example of what adequately balanced partial movements can create: an accurate and long throw. Those who don't move through the entire body and time the parts correctly will not be able to throw far.
When we learn new movements, we always create new connections, new interactions. If we are good at separating partial movements from one another and creating new connections, we can learn new moves without great effort. Precisely therefore it's important to us to make clear decisions in our training, while these decisions provide us with great freedom of movement. We can thus learn new moves more comfortable, and we have a higher movement repertoire. Making clear decisions is further essential when it comes to preventing injuries or changing or eliminating patterns that cause us pain.
Principle: movement is an interaction. Those who can create many different interactions and make clear decisions gain freedom of movement.
Sub principle: if the interaction is timed well, we move efficiently.
Joseph Bartz 2020-12-17