Preferential movements and mass mechanics

At the basis of the current preferential movements and mass mechanics (PMMM), als known as Marsman method, is the physiotherapist and manual therapist Jaap Marsman (1918-1992), who developed his own theory about the movement of the human body in the seventies of the last century. In 1987 a division arose in the then Marsman group, in which one school continued the original Marsman courses (Manual therapy Marsman). Another school developed into the current, and discussed PMMM.

Theory PMMM

Moving a (human) body is only possible if there is distortion in the body itself. This deformation can be seen as the contracting of a part of the body mass (called compression), causing the other part of the mass to divert (called a shift). The shift ultimately means that part or the entire body can move. By looking at movement in this way, mass mechanical rules and laws can be used to explain movements and deviations.

Preferred postures and movements

With good observation of movements of people it appears that we always move in an asymmetrically way. In the course of life, preference postures and preferential movements also develop early on. This means that the mass deformations, as mentioned above, will also be developed asymmetrically. This has consequences for the final shape and mobility which also develop asymmetrically. By dividing the body into functional units, it is possible to investigate, interpret and treat per region according to the mass mechanical model.


The examination of the Marsman method focuses on the one hand on the preferred postures and movements per person, and on the other hand on the factors that can disturb this. Various tests have been developed for this. In this way a basic template of the functioning of this person is created. From this can be derived on the one hand where someone physically has a good aptitude, on the other hand an individual approach of the person with the complaint is possible.


Every type of treatment can be applied: from exercises to mobilisations to manipulations. The goal is: to restore normal (preferred) postures and movements for this person. This means that the doctor/therapist can continue to use his own techniques, which have already been taught at other schools. Typical treatment techniques from the Marsman method are the compression-shift techniques: mobilisations where active or passive pressure is exerted on a certain part of the body, and where another part is going to make an alternate movement. This is often combined with breathing techniques.

Individual approach

It follows from the theory of the PMMM that the human body develops asymmetrically (left-right, but also forward-backwards). There can be big differences between people. It is now possible to predict on the basis of the tests how the body will develop or has developed. This provides an excellent frame of reference for interpreting left-right differences in mobility or position: is this finding a normal finding for this person, or is it very disturbing. It provides a different basis for the individual approach to complaints than traditional symmetry views.

See also the article on symmetry and asymmetry.


Cursusklappers Marsman Stichting. Marsman Stichting, Haarlem, 2000.

Schaafsma SM et al (2009). Epigenesis of behavioural lateralization in humans and other animals. Philos Transact Royal Soc London. Series B: Biological Sciences, 364(1519), 915-927.

McManus C. Right hand, left hand. The origins of asymmetry in brains, bodies, atoms and culture. 2003 Phoenix.

Porac C, Coren S. Lateral preferences and human behavior. 2012 Springer-Verlag.