In the last few years, the notion of functional training has vastly changed the face of health and fitness. CrossFit, Boot Camps, Pilates, Yoga, and even the Ninja Warrior television series which have burst onto the scene using often household instruments to increase the strength and conditioning of us all. Movement: “How We Move” is Just As Important as “How Much We Do”
As a Myotherapist I love the way this industry is constantly evolving. Change is great for the most as it fosters growth in thought and action. The introduction of less rigidity in what and how we are exercising indeed adds an element of variety, spontaneity and fun.
However, with all exercise there is an element of injury risk. When it comes to injury as a result of functional training and any other activity for that matter, there needs to be assessment and treatment of not only the “condition” but an assessment of any underlying functional problem. Functional training can complicate this, as there are massive amounts of products out there that get us to move in a near infinite amount of ways. This problem has inspired me to find and implement a movement based framework to compliment and improve any of my treatment plans.
So what is Functional Training?
Well I’m glad you asked!
Functional Training is very loosely defined by our online friend Wikipedia as “a classification of exercise which involves training the body for the activities performed in daily life”. When I say loosely, I probably mean superficially. As described above, there is a large spectrum of activities that could be classified as “functional”. It really does depend on the activities you wish to perform throughout the day. Not all of us want to be TV stars on an assault course, or a combatant in the UFC Octagon. A lot of us are quite content to be fit enough and strong enough to tackle daily tasks with moderate ease, and feel like they’ve had a largely productive day.
What makes an activity “functional” in my opinion is when there is an emphasis on movement. This movement training can be for strength, motor control, flexibility, or some other motivation, but the movement is closely related to movements we make every day, with the objective of improving that movement.
However when it comes to training, the quality of movement is just as important as its quantity of movement.
In other words, HOW SOMETHING MOVES ranks with, and sometimes above HOW MUCH SOMETHING MOVES. After all, an arm can have great muscle bulk and awesome range of movement in the shoulder, but if the arm and shoulder complex doesn’t move together in an acceptable fashion, then the shoulder or arm could be at risk of injury. A great analogy is building a house: you can’t build a great product (quantity of movement or action) without a strong foundation (quality of movement).
So How Does This Fit In With Myotherapy?
Often therapists will focus on a condition, or injury, or where the pain is.
This is important of course. I think most of us have been treated where you point to the spot of pain, and treatment is focused at some other point away from this spot. In a lot of cases it is not an incorrect treatment procedure. The problem lies with the therapist explanation and reasons why they are treating the way they are. For example, a lot of inflammatory conditions do not respond to techniques such as massage, or dry needling where the focus is to promote further “therapeutic inflammation”. I’m sure if this was communicated to the client at the time then there would be greater understanding and some ease of mind.
However, a problem or injury can sometimes be a clue to an underlying movement quality issue. Often I will see a person who has a recurrent hamstring problem, shoulder problem or neck issue. Other times the problem will move to another area close to the original spot. Strength testing and other testing can appear to be normal in the areas.
So what’s missing in the puzzle?
Myotherapy is not only about treating musculoskeletal conditions, but also about this bigger functional movement puzzle. When it comes to my treatment planning, I am finding it increasingly necessary to have a functional movement based framework underpinning the manual treatment or exercise prescription. Put simply, how can I assess and improve the movement quality in addition to treating the current problem to ensure that proper foundation is there “to build our house”.
The procedures are quite simple, and usually involves a few fundamental movements they we need to be able to perform daily tasks. After analysing the quality of this movement, as well as other “conventional” tests, we can come up with a treatment plan that focuses on not only a condition, but also why it may have become a problem in the first instance. From there we can work through and reassess your movement, your pain, your “tightness”, etc: all within a neat capability (movement quality) and condition (pain or injury) based framework.
If this interests you and you would like to know more, or would like to book an appointment please give Body and Spine Solutions a call on (02) 5310 6259 or after hours on (0438) 687 230.