Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Functional strength, movement and what does it all mean?

My definition of functional fitness for an athlete is really no different than the definition for the layman.  The difference lies in the fact that the layman’s sport is everyday physical challenges that present themselves and the athlete’s ability to function is tied to an athletic challenge.  
For an athlete the idea of being functionally sound is of great importance.  At Titan we devote a lot of time and effort into making sure that our athletes are functionally sound before we begin higher levels of volume and intensity in training.  Functional capabilities in an athlete are demonstrated in the ability to move the body through space with a strong base of overall body control.  This control comes from overall body strength, flexibility, coordination, and endurance.  This control of the body allows this movement to take place with a minimal amount of stress to the body.  In other words, if an athlete cannot adequately perform certain multi-joint combination movements then we have to determine where the gaps are in their fitness and take the proper steps to improve those weaknesses.  Gray Cook and Lee Burton developed the Functional Movement Screen (FMS) as a tool to gather objective data on an individual’s ability to perform movement patterns and identify areas of weakness and prevent injury. 

At Titan we utilize the FMS to help us establish a starting point for developing the overall strategy of training an athlete or non athlete.  The data generated from this screen coupled with a biomechanical screen and additional fitness evaluation gives us a good window into the fitness of an individual prior to the start of training.  This is VERY important information.  Any individual starting a fitness training program should spend time gathering this data.  

The FMS helps to reduce injuries, identify muscle imbalances, provides benchmarks for evaluating training, and areas where a sport may be leading to chronic injuries or movement impairments.  

In the last entry I spoke about periodization.   The start of all of our periodization is functional movement capabilities.   Depending on the individual’s ability to perform functionally will determine the amount of time in the periodization devoted to correcting imbalances that are discovered in these screens.  Even if an athlete is determined to be functionally sound all of our training is driven by a foundation of human movement and the ability of the individual to perform movement at higher and higher levels of output for the given sport. 
We utilize the FMS throughout an athlete’s training time to give us an ongoing tool to make sure that athletes are improving their ability to perform movements efficiently. 

Train smart, have fun and you will prevail.


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