What is Functional Movement?
By Anita Luck, Movement Specialist

Functional Movement is a fancy way of describing how our bodies, when in healthy and in balance, should be moving. If we are moving “functionally”, all the different parts of the body are moving from a place of strength and without pain. Read on for some examples of how Anita works with her clients.

As a Movement Specialist and Fellow of Applied Functional Science® (AFS), my first task is to observe the way an individual moves. I see exercise as a series of integrated movement patterns that promote a balance of strength and flexibility so a body can move with ease and efficiency.  In our first session, I’ll take you through a series of movements. I’m looking to see how each joint in your body participates in the movements, particularly the ankles, hips, and all parts of the back. I look closely to see if the right and left sides match. When one part cannot do its full share of the work, others parts have to work harder. Imbalances often lead to strains, injuries, or postural habits that limit ease of movement.  Each client presents an individual, complex movement puzzle.  Looking at each body, I want to know what moves well and what doesn’t. I often ask clients to squat and lunge with more variety than they have ever experienced. The variations insure that the glutes, as well as other supporting muscles, are working in as many angles and combinations as possible. The variety builds strength and increases the body’s ability to deal with the unexpected — which is usually what happened in sports as in life.

Together we build a smart body. If a client reports knee pain, I look above and below the painful area. I might discover that some part of the glutes are not moving with enough power. The feet or even a new pair of shoes can be the culprit of knee pain. I had a client who was told that her knee caps were “facing the wrong way,” and there was nothing she could do about her knee pain. I observed her gait and noticed that her feet didn’t move properly, and that was why her knees hurt. She worked with me to strengthen the muscles in her lower legs and followed my suggestion to get the appropriate orthotics (arch supports). Her knee pain soon vanished.

Another client was seeking relief from disabling headaches that she thought were the result of arthritis in her neck. A cortisone shot gave temporary relief, as did physical therapy. Using AFS techniques, I realized that the trigger for her headaches was a thoracic spine that didn’t move well. The thoracic — what we call the upper and mid back — is often overlooked, since most people complain of pain in their neck or lower back. However, a thoracic spine that is not moving optimally is a component of any back problem. A few daily targeted exercises keep this client’s back in good health and have practically eliminated her headaches.

Pelvic floor issues also need to be viewed from a whole body perspective.  After pregnancy and/or childbirth, it is essential that exercise begins slowly any time after clearance to exercise is given. The last woman I helped was leaking urine when coughing and sneezing. Kegel exercises weren’t helping.  She’d had an ankle sprain 18 months before seeing me. We had to work on mobilizing her ankle, and strengthening all parts of her hips and thighs. We also improved her core strength without stressing her pelvic floor. This approach greatly reduced her leakage.

I hope reading this motivates you to continue your journey to feel your best. I am thrilled to be working at a practice dedicated to integrated health. There is much wisdom is this approach because ultimately all systems of our bodies need to work together smoothly to make us feel our best. I look forward to working together to shape your happy, healthy body.

– Antia Luck