We all “want” to work out. Most of us will join a gym at some point in our life, and we’ll go through various techniques of training. We might think cardio is key for a while. Then we’ll move to strength training. Some people may think yoga is the answer for them. All of these things can help with your fitness goals and the way you move, but we’d be wise to look a little deeper into a buzz word to see where we really should start. One of the buzz words in the fitness industry that has actually stuck around, even with people misinterpreting what it really means, is the “Core”. While it’s been debated numerous times on what exactly it is, we can all agree it’s generally related to the torso of the body and the extremities basically hang off of it:) With that being said, what are we REALLY doing to make sure the foundation of our body is doing the right things?
There is something a physical therapist invented that can help us determine exactly WHERE we are with our “functional movement”. Are our foundational movements at an optimal level, or do they need work? Optimal functional movements allow us to perform our workouts to the best ability we can. We can get a better range of motion, under control, which can produce maximal force output, which is THE name of the game when we are looking at getting stronger. If anything is out of whack, it starts a chain reaction of other movement patterns that are sub-optimal for producing a desired training effect.
Let’s use a simple example of the bicep curl. With the bicep curl, the intention is to get a good pump going in, you guessed it, the bicep muscle of the arm. If everything is gravy, and our foundational patterns are good, this can be a great exercise to build a peak in the biceps. If your shoulder has issues and it hurts when you curl a weight, you will more than likely try to move around that pain in order to get the weight up to the same spot at the end of the bicep curl This is NOT a good thing. It’s compromising the good movement pattern and substituting a poor one. When you substitute in poor movement patterns that starts a chain of events that can lead to things such as movement inefficiency, faulty muscle recruitment, and even injury. Using the wrong muscles for the job is generally a bad idea all around, and if there are less than optimal foundational movements going on, this will eventually happen.
What we need to do is “screen” our movement patterns to see what exactly we need to work on. A good way to do this is what that guy, Gray Cook invented. It’s called the Functional Movement Screen. It goes through 7 foundational movements and gives you a simple score based on a couple checkpoints. The movements include squatting, lunging, shoulder mobility, rotary stability and more. Based on the scores after the movements, you see what scores are low, and you work on the weakest scores. Start from the bottom, and work your way up. It will increase the quality of movement as well as keep you from going into patterns that can cause you pain or injury. Seems like a good way to organize your workouts.
What we all really want is to move pain free, and get stronger and leaner doing it. If we attack our workout programs as described above we are well on our way to getting it right