Functional Training originated from the medical rehabilitation field. Physical therapists began developing the core basic exercises which mimicked exactly what their patients did, either at home or at work in order for them to be able to return to their normal everyday lives or jobs. This was usually after an actual injury or even surgery.
So if the injured patient’s job required a lot of heavy lifting, then the rehabilitation would be targeted on body functions geared towards heavy lifting. If the patient happened to be a parent, the functional training would involve moderate lifting as well as endurance exercises. If the patient happened to be an elite athlete, then the training would be focused on re-building endurance and muscle strength from the core.
Core Strength Training The Key
Try to imagine this, one day, hopefully not sometime soon, you suddenly find yourself unable to lift a 10lb bag of groceries off the floor and onto your counter. You’re suddenly not able to find the strength to be able to get yourself out of your car, or you have just tripped near the bottom of the stairs, and have twisted your ankle, and can’t get back up.
Although they may sound like everyday simple physical movements that you do, but how would it affect you, if you’ve suddenly lost the ability to complete these seemingly easy tasks? If you happen to lose the strength in your core to be able to perform these basic functional movements, the end result means that you’re losing the ability to properly care for yourself.
These functional body movements are required for our usual normal activities of basic everyday living, and these are the tasks that we all usually take for granted. If you happen to lose the strength, the quality of your life will obviously radically change dramatically.
When your body considers its ability to be able to handle these basic movements, there are three areas which you should be considering to strengthen your muscles. They include: stability and basic core strength, proper balance and flexibility.
Stability And Basic Core Strength
Core strength in the body along with the abdominal muscles are always often considered synonymous, but they really are not. The basic core will consist of a variety of different muscles which run down the complete length of the torso and into the trunk. When these muscles happen to contract, that movement stabilizes the spine, the shoulder girdle and the pelvis which creates a solid base of support.
If your core muscles happens to be weak, then you’re likely to develop certain conditions such as rotator cuff tendinitis, lower back pain, or even chronic headaches. Those who have weak core muscles will often also have poor lumbar curves along with an unnatural swayback of the spine, which will usually cause a great deal of pain and stress directly on the lower back region.
The inability to be able to stabilize the trunk can lead to impairment in the body’s basic ability to fully transfer movements efficiently between the arms and the legs.
So keep in mind that simple act of just picking up that bag of groceries. The next time you perform this, note how your body reacts. You will start by bending at the torso and then the legs, which will automatically engage your core stabilizers. While you are engaged, you will then make micro-adjustments to stabilize your balance by ensuring that you don’t fall over, then you begin the squat motion to be able to lift the groceries off of the floor.
Once the movement has started, you will naturally further engage the muscles which line your front torso as well as the back while placing that bag of groceries on the counter. Wow, that feels like a full-body workout!
Proper Balance And Flexibility
When you consider functional movements, both balance and flexibility cannot be separated. But to be able to fully understand how these movements are related to your everyday life, you’ll have to understand the concept which is “proprioception,” or the mind and body connection.
Proprioception refers to the natural ability to sensing the location, the position, orientation and the movement of the body as well as its parts. It may sound to you like that’s a pretty basic concept, but think back to the last time you actually stumbled or tripped, and then you regained your composure instead of embarrassingly falling flat on your face. Or try paying close attention to the next time you stand up out of the chair that your currently sitting on.
The ability to be able to sense exactly where your limbs as well as your body are spatially is quite remarkable. It is an automatic as well as a second nature reaction. However, if you don’t bother challenging your body and your mind by working on your flexibility and balance, the proprioception then becomes weakened.
Your body’s balance and flexibility are the key aspects to the quality of your life. So you implementing balance training into your exercise program is essential and recommended. With the proper balance training, you’ll simultaneously improve your core strength as well as increase your joints stability and its mobility.
Joint stability and mobility refers to the amount of resistance which is offered by the tendons, the muscles and the tissues which surrounds a joint. If this resistance happens to be fast as well as strong, your body then has the ability to be able to react to any unexpected movements.
However, if your muscles, your ligaments, or the supporting structures happen to be weak or slow to activate, the joints will then move in unnatural positions, which results in pain as well as dysfunction.
Functional Training For Optimizing Health
Functional training is when your body movements mimic the natural way which our bodies work, in multiple planes as well as with multiple joint actions, which will require sufficient muscle strength, coordination and stabilization.
Equipment which can can help with performing functional training includes balance boards and balls, power plates and kettlebell training. Body weight exercises which can be extremely effective for developing your basic functional fitness includes doing sit-ups, V-sits, front as well as side plank exercises, back bridges, squats, balancing on one leg and oblique twists.
Fitness programs which incorporates all three of the functional fitness areas directly into their training programs include Yoga, Pilates, CrossFit and a few popular DVD based programs such as Windsor Pilates, the Ten Minute Trainer and the extremely popular P90X. They sell because they work.
The adage which is “use it or lose it,” is completely accurate as we begin to age. So start implementing these functional fitness exercises into your active lifestyle today to ensure yourself a capable, pain free future!