Movement is the actions or activities of the body. Functional movement is a term that is thrown around a gym environment quite frequently but whilst someone may think they are doing functional movement do they actually know why and how it is functional? The answer may be yes, which is great, however I will now tell you some pointers that may put a spanner in the works. When we think about functional movement and the way we are currently moving we need to ask ourselves a few questions. If we are not moving as well as we want to or need to, what we are currently doing is not working. What do we need to change in order to get ourselves moving well? We will probably have to get rid of certain exercises and regress others, we shouldn’t add into what we are currently doing as it is clearly not working, (1).
This still may not provide an answer for you and may actually sound quite confusing, however, it is quite simple. Rather than being fixated on an individual muscle you feel you want to strengthen, you need to step out of your comfort zone and figure out how your body should be moving and how an exercise in a gym environment is going to strengthen you when doing simple every day tasks. Our body moves in patterns and usually we use more than one muscle group at a given time, therefore, by isolating one muscle we are not providing ourselves with a good base of movement patterns. We may even notice that we have an asymmetry or a stability problem, which can lead us down a road to injury. But, by figuring out if you have any dysfunction and working on it will provide you with better movement patterns and better physical health in the future.
When I started at the clinic one of the first things we ask a patient to do is roll on the floor either using just their arms or their legs. At first I was a little intrigued, as I have never asked someone to roll before and it seemed quite a random thing to ask someone. But, it is incredible how hard some people find it, I would therefore, recommend in the quiet of your own home try it. See if you find a leg hard or an arm hard. This may flag up an imbalance. If you think about it, the first thing we learnt to do in our developmental stage was to roll then crawl. If we cannot do it now then how can we expect our bodies to be working correctly and efficiently? If rolling doesn’t seem a problem try placing a small tin of soup on your lower back and crawl with it on their trying not to let it roll off. You should crawl both forwards and backwards. Again see how you find it, for a lot of people this is hard and needs practice, but in the process you are switching your nervous system back on and engaging all sorts of muscles including your core, and these will support you though your every day movement.
So look at what you are doing, question it and ask is this benefiting me, am I getting little niggles and then implement what you are going to do about it.
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Gray C. Why we move poorly…and what to do about it; 2011 [Accessed 08.10.2104] http://www.functionalmovement.com/articles/Philosophy/2011-10-26_why_we_move_poorly.and_what_to_do_about_it.