What is functional movement? What is functional? | Spire Perform

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What is functional movement? What is functional?

Perform Press Office
24 October 2013

The use of the terms functional movement, functional training and functional correction regained popularity around 10 years ago, revisiting the techniques formerly employed by Remedial Instructors in the 80’s to generally condition clients.  What may now seem to be an indirect approach to work with patterns of activity rather than specifically targeting individual joints has gained momentum in the field of rehabilitation.    The difficulties with explaining the complexities of human movement dysfunction and correction, may have been a stumbling block for practitioners in the past, favouring a more specific approach to interventions. 

In the process of rehabilitation after injury; do we correct faulty movement patterns by simply repeating corrected movements, or do we look deeper into behaviour and the perception of movement to determine the weakest link?

By assessing individual movements of a joint or the strength of a muscle we get a only a part of the picture.  Assessing how a body moves naturally, we get a further piece of the puzzle. The habitual changes in daily postures and the evolutionary changes of the human skeleton are not complimentary.  The past 40 years have seen a huge impact in how technology governs our lives.  E-mail to communicate, video-conferencing, mobile telephone and the development of the digital age has led to an increase in the accumulative sedentary time spent both at work and at leisure. The average ‘Screen time’ of an adolescent has continued to increase year on year totalling around 20 hours a week. 

The human body is designed to move, be adaptive and responsive to changes in its environment.  Without frequent exposure to the fundamentals of being adaptive, coping with any form of physical activity can lead to dysfunction.

How can we screen for movement?

Being a multivariate problem, quantifying how much or how little someone should move has been an area of debate for many years.  Should we be able to touch our toes? Should we be able to look to the ceiling?  From assessing how people move over the past 20 years, Functional Movement Systems would say that these are fundamental in a normal healthy population.  Are they definite predictors of injury? Although not definitively linked, the tendency for poor or asymmetrical movers to develop significant time loss injuries is high.
The Functional Movement Screen and the Y-Balance test, both used at Perform Birmingham, assess fundamental movement patterns, identify asymmetry and determine a baseline to movement.  With this baseline score it provides a start point for rehabilitation or for athletic development.

By Stuart Elwell, a highly specialist physiotherapist at Perform Birmingham, one of just two people in the country who have successfully completed the Functional Movement Internship.

To find out more about the Functional Movement Screen or the Y-Balance test please contact Perform Birmingham on 0121 5807131