Have you ever thought that something is wrong with the way that you move? Have you ever suffered from back or joint pain for no apparent reason? There are plenty of sports men and women out there that become injured through for no apparent reason. This isn’t to say there is not an underlying issue, if fact there usually is, they just haven’t worked it out! The latest buzz words of the last few years has been functional training. I’m still unsure what functional refers to, may be I’m being a little bit thick, but your functional might not be mine, so there has to be an adaptation? Props and wingers in Rugby Union have very different functional requirements, sure the base line movements should be the same for deadlifts and squats, but the training methods will be different when finessing the training programme.
So this might all seem a million miles away for Joe Public who goes to the gym to work out and keep fit. But is it? What are your goals, why do you train? For some it’s weight loss or maintenance, for others it’s the health benefits of exercise, or it’s the aesthetics of big guns and shoulders or a six pack? Whatever your goals or training regime it should not cause you harm. Yes you can get unlucky, but a sound, well thought out programme followed correctly and listening to your body should hugely reduce the risk of injury in the healthy individual. Therefore, functional in this context should not just mean what you need to do for your chosen sport or fitness goal, it should mean ensuring that you’re targeting the whole, to prevent the likelihood of injury and to improve control and poise.
Mistakes or precursors to injury that I’ve seen are over developing muscle groups either with opposing muscle groups (quads and hamstrings) or symmetry (dominant left side of core). A common example would be with distance runners not engaging/training the hamstrings and glutes in a training programme. This weakness in the postural chain can cause lower back pain and hamstring issues. Another would be in asymmetrical sports like tennis players. A single handed approach may lead to poor posture due to a dominance in the preferred hand/side. Similar issues can be seen in Kickboxing where fighters train in one stance and neglect there opposing stance. This can cause spinal imbalance and distortion, which has potential long term health issues. So you can now see that it is important to move or train both sides of the body or opposing muscle groups in unison. Another point is that by creating this balance, you will also find it easier to move. By training in a balanced way I have been less reliant on generating momentum to kick into a certain target and as such I’m able to be more accurate and controlled while demonstrating form or maintaining balance while fighting.
Ok, so we are still talking about athletes, so what about the less competitive inclined? Well the same principles apply. A few of my clients have some postural issues, the main ones being rounded shoulders where there is a dominance or shortening of the chest muscles and stretched or weak upper back muscles. So what, well this can lead to significant later life issues, plus we’ll have all heard the expression chest out, shoulders back. Having this upright posture also looks impressive.
Having this balance helps us prevent injury, move better not just for our sport, but in general and looks good! So what’s not to like? Well for a lot of people all of this may seem overly technical or a bit too much like hard work, but trust me, in the long run run it better to tweak with how you move and why, than have to pay for rehab and use NHS resources to sort out significant issues in the longer term. Not forgetting that you’ll have been in clip before you have to get this attention, so just get it right from the start.
If you want advice on training, a training programme or want one to one tailored sessions then please get in touch. Remember that we are all qualified professionals that take pride what we deliver to our clients. We continually update our knowledge base and look at what’s current in the health and fitness industry and understand what is truly useful and useable and what is a passing fad!