All too often people focus on strength and stability training as a way to improve their fitness and appearance.  But what happens when an individual’s  initial dysfunction is being caused by something other than  a muscular weakness?  What if that supposed weakness is actually muscle inhibition?  What if the weakness in a prime mover is the result of  a dysfunctional stabilizer?  What if tightness is actually protective muscle tone or inadequate muscle coordination?  What if Lindsay Lohan actually went through rehab and got clean?

Hopefully all of these questions have raised a few eyebrows (except the last question….we know that will never happen) because even today, there are very few professionals who look at movement as a standard for human fitness and performance.  The problem is that these sciences may be the key to unlocking the mysteries behind injury and dysfunction in the human body.

My industry as well as others that deal with human movement such as physical therapy, athletic training, chiropractic medicine, and orthopedics seem to be moving towards this direction as our science has evolved over the past decade.

What may seem complex atually takes a minimalist approach as we look at the body and it’s systems as a whole and break it down to the most primitive movement patterns.  The goal here is to allow your body to relearn the movement patterns that were available at birth and work from there.

As an attempt to create an industry standard, Gray Cook’s new book Movement: Functional Movement Systems begins to simplify many of these quandries in an attempt to create standard operating procedures for our science and industry.

I have been following Gray for a few years now and have adopted the Functional Movement Screen or FMS as a standard for working with all of my clients.  Although every one of my client’s goals may be different, the one thing that every human has in common is movement.  Our job is to not only locate faulty movement patterns but to bring back mobility and stability before attempting to build strength on top of dysfunction.

Here are a few pearls of wisdom from this epic book:

    • Pain affects motor control in unpredictable and inconsistent ways.  This, coupled with poorly planned and poorly  reproduced exercises, gave the average patient little chance of reestablishing authentic motor control.
    • What we see as low general fitness may be the extra metabolic demand produced by inferior neuromuscular coordination and compensation.
    • Mobility must precede stability.
    • Those with a weak core might develp tightness in the shoulder girdle or neck musculature as a secondary atempt to continue functioning. 
    • Those with chronic low back pain and stability problems may develop tightness in the hip flexors and hamstrings as secondary braces even if it reduces mobility.
    • As we age, grow and become self-sufficient-and then as we decline and lose some capabilities-we must always maintain some degree of our original functional movement patterns or we will be disadvantaged.
    • Breathing connects all parts of the movement matrix, but it remains the most neglected aspect of the Western approach to exercise, athletic conditioning and rehabilitation….Correct breathing provides power through a central drive of energy supported by the matrix.
    • Once appropriate levels of movement pattern function have been established, performance and skill can be investigated.  If these are prematurely investigated without an appropriate movement pattern baseline, poor performance and skill testes may actually be attributed to a faulty fundamental movement pattern.
    • Many rehabilitation approaches do not revisit the fundamental movement patterns that walking is built upon when older individuals lose balance or have difficultywalking. Instead, many seniors are placed on recombent bikes or given resistance exercises for their thighs under the assumption that weakness is the only problem. 
    • However, we must consider that coordination, patterning, reflex stabilization and timing also play a role, and these will not be reconstructed with generalized strengthening or cardio exercises.

I have barely scratched the surface on some of the wisdom that Movement  has to offer but hopefully this will help cause a paradigm shift on how you view exercise and movement rehabilitation.  As we move closer to a time that is ruled by science and logic, this field will continue to grow and evolve for the betterment of those we work with. 

The sad truth and the largest obstacle that I face is that the media and advertising interests have greater influence on the fitness culture than the professionals dedicated to fithess, athletic development and rehabilitation.  This is the only reason that anyone would ever buy a workout DVD from that asshat “The Situation” or a Kettlebell DVD from “actress” Jillian Michaels.

What is the world coming to?

Written by Steve