What is Functional Movement?
Functional movement often refers to exercises that mimic activities and movement patterns we use in our everyday lives. They can also be movements that improve our body’s natural movement patterns. These are often movements we have neglected in adult years but were very good at as children. Some movements include squats, crawling movements that use core strength, lunging, and shoulder mobility. It is vital that we are able to complete functional movements without pain in order to remain independent, healthy, and happy individuals throughout the lifespan.
As a trainer, it is common for me to see adults of all ages unable to safely and effectively complete functional movements because of our 21st century lifestyles, as well as previous poor or outdated fitness advice. Later in this post I will review how to become more aware of unreputable information or unsafe activities for our bodies.
How to incorporate functional movement into your workout routine
I would not advise anyone to try these on their own without first consulting with a fitness professional. Virtual sessions will work very well to learn the basics. Everyone’s body and health history is different and workouts should be treated that way.
That being said, it will be important to start with core & glute muscle engagement. In my opinion, these are the foundation of strong functional movements, as well as pain prevention, whether in the gym or at home. By learning to use these muscles, you will improve your posture, strength, and decrease pain and weaknesses in sport and other activities, improving overall quality of life.
How to incorporate functional movement into your day (and barely notice!)
By using good form, taking your time, and thinking about muscle activation, the following activities can be extremely beneficial and complimentary to your workouts:
Sweeping & mopping
This is a lot of information, so the next question is: Where to start?
Creating a schedule, find others to work with in order to promote accountability
Learning how your body moves- mind body connection
What are your strengths and weaknesses?
Do you have pain or limitations?
There are so many types of workouts out there, so how is this way of training different?
You may hear the term “Body Builder Splits” which refers to training one-two muscle group per exercise session. I do not recommend this style for most people on a regular basis. Common splits you may hear people discuss:
Back and Biceps
Chest and Triceps
Ab workouts sprinkled throughout the week
What do we miss here? Your whole body is not moving together to create a mobile and stable unit.
Want to be able to do a pull up or chin up? This requires your whole body to move with stability, together, using your core, biceps, and back muscles. When you strictly isolate muscle groups, it becomes more challenging to get the full range of motion in an exercise such as the pull up.
Challenge the status quo of traditional bicep curls and lat pull downs by modifying your stance to engage your stabilizer muscles (core and glutes).
And lastly remember, mobility before stability. So if you do not have a full range of motion in your shoulders, let’s work on that first before tackling the pull up.
I would also recommend reaching out to a fitness professional to find stretches that work for your body to increase your range of motion. The better your range of motion, the stronger your potential lifting will be and the better your body will feel, every day.
Benefits of functional movement for your sport
Reduce pain points and risk of injury
Example: improving hip mobility through stretches and strengthening will improve your squat, as well as balance. This is helpful for many track and field athletes, but can be applied to almost any sport. Comment below if you want to learn how functional movements can improve your athletics!
Benefits of functional movement for Activities of Daily Living (ADLs)
It is so important to have the mobility and endurance to complete activities of daily living, like driving, chores, and maintaining a balanced life. Keep moving in a smart way, and your body will thank you!
Functional Movement & Pain Prevention
There is a time and place for more focused strength exercises and you don’t need to avoid them completely. Some examples include, those training for a powerlifting or bodybuilding competition which requires specific strength and physique. Therefore those who participate will likely focus on specific muscle groups during some workouts to enhance their abilities.
For the general population, it can feel empowering to lift heavy weights in an isolated way and can help you build muscle and power. However, these exercises should not be done without proper coaching for mechanics and safety purposes. You are best off focusing on building total body stability and mobility before attempting isolated muscle group exercises.
Want to learn more about how to start functional movement exercises safely and effectively? Email me: firstname.lastname@example.org
Comment your thoughts below!