Updated: Dec 6, 2021
"Functional Training" or "Functional Rehabilitation" has become a buzz word of late in fitness and rehabilitation world. If you have attempted to sign up for a group exercise class at the gym in the past few months, you have probably seen a class listed as a functional workout or functional training. However, do you really understand what functional training really means?
Simply put, functional training/rehabilitation is specific functional exercise program to restore, optimize, and enhance basic functional tasks and performance.
As a human being, we explore various flow of movements and spend most of the day loading our bodies in different ways whether we realize it or not. Functional training has a distinct purpose to address mobility, strength, endurance, and power to help our daily functional tasks such as playing sports, picking up grocery bags, carrying your children, pushing or pulling door, getting the cookie jar from the top shelf, and lunging to tie your shoes.
Functional training/rehabilitation has very unique advantages to improve your functional movements and performance.
1. Rather than focusing locally on individual muscles and strengthening each muscle in isolation, functional training focuses on improving specific movement patterns similar to our daily of living activities. For example, squat is more functional driven movement pattern (globally) of lower extremity than performing exercise such as knee extension for Quadriceps muscle, targeting a single muscle group or a machine-based exercise.
That is not to say that an isolated exercise doesn't have its place. If you are recovering from an acute muscle, ligament, or joint injury, you will probably begin with a local movement pattern to make a target single muscle or joint to get stronger. However, solely performing isolated exercise will not allow you to reach your long-term goals of moving better and feeling better than you ever did before.
2. Functional training's goal is to teach you to move better, feel better, and perform better. To do so, functional training emphasizes upright, everyday movement patterns that target multiple muscle groups at once in a coordinated way to be very efficient in movement patterns.
We want to work on basic component of functional tasks such as push, pull, squat, hinge, carry, step, lunge, single leg stance, reach, lift, throw, pivot, and walk/run movement patterns. If you to get better at your sport or the movement that is giving you difficulty, you need to train specific movement pattern first and then to improve performance level. For example, If you want to run faster, you will need to work on trunk stability (core control), hip and trunk control (single leg squat/deadlift patterns), landing/push off, acceleration, and plyometric power drills to improve overall strength, power, coordination, and speed, The focus of functional training is really to gain quality of movement control, strength, and power that you can then directly utilize with the specific movement patterns you are trying to enhance.
3. So how do we get you ready for functional training? The first step is to assess how do you move with some basic functional movement patterns. Some basics would be: the squat, the hinge pattern, the forward and side lunge, push, pull, and reaching overhead to name a few. As we assess how you perform these patterns, we are focusing on areas that we notice compensations, restrictions, or deficits. After seeing how you move, we assess you to determine the reasoning behind why you are moving in that pattern. Is there a mobility restriction?
Is there too much mobility and not enough control? Are you lacking the strength to perform that pattern? Movement is all about finding the harmony between mobility, control, and strength. Based on the answers to these questions, you will get your unique, specifically tailored program (step by step progressive training design) to enhance and improve these areas. Based on how you perform, you will either progress or regress through a system of movement progressions until you reach your goal of performing better than you ever imagined.
Here at Columbia PT in Motion, we incorporate functional training into the plan of care for every client. We utilize Functional Movement Screen (FMS), Selective Functional Movement Assessment (SFMA), Video analysis, Champion Performance Training program (CPS), The Movement Assessment Technologies (MAT) system, FITLIGHT system, Crossover Symmetry Trainer, large selection of functional equipment and latest up-to-date technology to assist each client in meeting all their long-term functional goals. Our aim is not to get you back to where you were before your injury - but even better than where you were before your injury! Recover, restore, optimize, and then enhance!