Functional Fitness – What’s It All About

Our bodies are made to move. From our feet up to our necks, each segment, each limb is part of a kinetic chain. When our joints are in proper alignment and our muscular strength and flexibility in balance, we can move with ease and fluidity as we go about daily life activities and recreational pursuits. If they are not, we develop misalignments, muscular imbalances and compensations that lead to aches, pains, postural issues and often injury. Unfortunately, our sedentary lifestyles, with hours sitting at a desk or in a car, promote these types of problems. And very often, as we attempt to engage in an exercise program to try to promote health and well being, we end up exacerbating things because of inattention to posture, form and balanced exercising.

Traditional exercise programs utilizing free weights and weight lifting machines, while having many benefits, also have some important limitations. They generally focus on one muscle group at a time and movement in one plane of motion. While this can be very effective in building individual muscle size, strength and tone, exercises that focus on one muscle group at a time in one plane of motion do not reflect how our bodies function dynamically. In fact, there are times when traditional exercising can contribute to dysfunctional imbalances by over-developing one set of muscles causing tightening or shortening of those muscles to the detriment of opposing muscles. A prime example of this is the venerable bench press. Guys love them because well developed pecs are viewed as archetypal masculinity. But as your pecs get stronger and more developed, they get shortened, pulling your shoulders forward and forcing your scapular muscles to stretch and lengthen which can lead to a round shouldered posture, potential shoulder impingement and thoracic aches and pains.

Functional movement assessment has as its objectives identifying postural misalignments, imbalances in muscular strength and flexibility and compensations in movement patterns. Functional movement training has as its goal correcting these issues while also training and strengthening our bodies to move in the patterns of movements that are the foundation for our daily activities and recreation. It combines focused exercises to strengthen and stretch opposing muscle groups as needed, exercises that engage multiple muscle groups in multiple planes of motion and multi-movement exercises that pattern the movements in which you engage in daily life activities and your favorite recreational pursuits. It can be based on weight resistance training, body weight training and even suspension training like TRX. Functional movement training gets your body moving the way it was designed to move while building muscle, strength and flexibility. Whether you want to lift packages out of your trunk without hurting your back or want to increase your performance in competitive in sports, functional movement training is for everyone.  And for those who are concerned that you can’t get strong and fit without engaging in traditional exercises, I invite you to watch American Ninja Warrior where functional fitness training has been taken to the next level!

Feel free to contact me to discuss how functional movement training can be added to your fitness program and will enhance your fitness pursuits.

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