Using movement and muscle testing to promote healthy musculoskeletal systems

Body mechanics and muscle function of the human body do not change. However, the list of musculoskeletal problems that can arise as a result of muscles imbalances is long. All the more reason that your Pilates teacher should think critically and apply objectivity in evaluating and solving your movement restrictions.

So how do we like to solve faulty postures, movement patterns and pain syndromes at the Body Props Pilates studio? We are keen advocates of applying the scientific method.

This scientific approach uses relevant and meaningful muscle and biomechanical examinations to test a hypotheses (why we think you’re having the problem you do). You’ll receive specific exercises based on the test results to improve and restore the utility and movement of your body. We’ll perform a retest, after having made the first adjustment to your movement strategy and review the results. Your program may be adjusted or continued to deal with the muscles imbalances that are keeping your body in compensatory postural patterns.

This type of corrective exercise and specialised treatment is exemplary for Clinical Pilates. It serves to restore normal range of motion, optimal body alignment and muscle balance.

An example of one such examination test is the Functional Squat Test. This test among others is used to assess the influences of an asymmetrical pelvis and how this imbalance contributes to pelvis dysfunction. We present it here in detail with kind permission from the Postural Restoration Institute® (PRI) in the USA.

LEVEL 1: Ability to initiate a squat by slightly bending knees while trunk remains in flexion. Inability reflects lack of posterior pelvic rotation and hyperactive back extensors.

LEVEL 2: Ability to begin squatting, moving bottom back and knees forward while trunk remains in flexion. Inability reflects lack of femoral adduction, hyperactive hip flexors, and overactive femoral external rotators.


LEVEL 3: Ability to squat bringing bottom below knee level while keeping heels down and trunk flexed. Inability reflects tight intercostals and hyperactive anterior / posterior tibialis.


LEVEL 4: Ability to squat keeping heels down, trunk flexed and bottom to heels. Inability reflects hyperactive quads and gastroc-soleus.


LEVEL 5: Ability to maximally squat keeping heels down and trunk flexed while keeping center of gravity through heels. Inability reflects lack of maximal internal rotation of acetabular on femoral head and synchronized mechanics of diaphragm and pelvic floor respiration.


Technique used with permission from the Postural Restoration Institute® © 2016,


If you would like us to take a closer look at a specific musculoskeletal issue or movement pattern, just sign up for our comprehensive Screening 1:1 Assessment . We’ll be glad to support you in improving the utility and movement of your body.