Exercise is important in maintaining a healthy lifestyle and keeping up with your fitness, BUT not every exercise are created equal! While strength training specific muscle groups (through machines and certain weight lifting exercises), cardio workouts (running, spinning, and the dreaded Stair Master), and other types of popular workouts can help keep you in shape, there is one category of workouts that translate into your everyday life, sports activities, and physical longevity… Functional movement training! It uses exercises that are based around movements you would do in real-life situations (sitting down/standing up, jumping, running, walking up stairs, bending over to pick something up, twisting, etc). Functional movement training has become popular in recent years because more people are seeing these workouts translate into the health of their bodies with increased mobility, stability, and overall range of motion; which is translating to them living active and health daily lives.

There are tons of benefits to functional movement training! So with Health By Ratio, we offer functional movement training programs to help you regain full ranges of stable motion. Our programs are designed for those who have suffered an injury, been cleared by their Dr’s to get back to daily habits… Yet are still not fully recovered. It’s for those who have lost their full range of motion and feel constantly tight and out of balance. As well as H.S., College, or professional athletes that want to improve their athletic capabilities while learning how to avoid injury. This is because, if you want to improve your overall health, stability, and flexibility, our functional training programs drastically help! So here are some suggestions to get you started…

In this blog, we are going to discuss the benefits that this type of workout can provide you. Read on to learn more about functional movement and start incorporating these exercises into your daily routine!

Improves Daily Life

As you move throughout your day, you are using a ton of different muscle groups and doing a variety of movements. Functional movement training can help improve the function of your body, while improving your entire body’s strength and endurance. You will also increase your stability while improving your alignment by counter-balancing postural deviations accrued from injuries and years of bad postural habits, which of course is translated throughout your daily life. General to athletic movements will become easier in your day-to-day life, from lifting items, to squatting to sit in a chair, to jumping to dunk a basketball, functional movement training (when done correctly) will make daily tasks pain-free and simple.

Low Impact

Functional movement training is generally low impact. This is great for people of all fitness levels, from people who are brand new to the fitness world or people who are looking for a different training style to change it up. Low-impact workouts are great for everyone, especially those with bad joints or body pain. Even older adults can practice functional movements without fear of putting added stress on their joints (as long as proper form is maintained). Many exercises can be extremely hard on your body, which may only leave you tighter, further out of alignment, &/or in more pain, so it can be difficult to know which workouts are best for your joints. The low-impact movements of functional training are a great option. These “gentle” workouts are a great starting point for anyone who is just getting into fitness, recovering from injury, or trying to keep their body mobile and active on recovery days.

Improves Flexibility

Functional movement training incorporates the two types of stretching — static and dynamic. Static stretching includes stretches that are held for a period of time, whereas dynamic stretching is done by moving in and out of stretches to warm up while increasing range of motion of your muscles. Both of these can help improve flexibility, but of the two dynamic is typically more beneficial to not only increasing your range of motion, but when done correctly incorporates re-training your Central Nervous System (CNS) to be comfortable with moving in and out of those ranges of motion (whereas passive static stretching only increases flexibility).

With improved flexibility, you reduce your risk of injury, are able to move more freely, and can feel more comfortable performing everyday activities. Flexibility is extremely important in every aspect of life, from putting on socks to picking something up off the ground. Functional movement training can help you develop better flexibility which can be beneficial to both your fitness and everyday life.

Improves Posture

Many people sit at a desk all day long, sit in a car, sit on the couch, and lay down on their side with their knees bent like… you guessed it… a sitting position. This can make it difficult to maintain good posture, avoid back pain, shoulder injuries, and knee injuries. Functional movement training helps to strengthen your core, which provides you with better support and stability in the glute and back muscles to support the spine. This means that your posture will be better and you will reduce your back pain, and risk of injuries essentially all over. Most functional movement exercises are not stabilized and require smaller muscle groups to support larger ones. This means that one muscle group will not become overworked, which can cause posture issues.

Improves Muscles Memory

Improving your muscle memory is another great benefit that function movement training can offer you (referenced earlier with recruiting and retraining your CNS). This is especially beneficial for athletes and those who play sports. The more your body performs a particular movement, the faster and more responsive it will be at repeating this movement in the future. When you practice these functional movements, you are exercising the brain, as well as building muscles and improving mobility. Just remember: Practice does NOT make perfect… Perfect practice makes perfect.

Reduces Joint Pain

Functional training is extremely beneficial for those who constantly suffer from joint, back, or muscle pain. Functional movement training is somewhere between fitness/athletic training and physical therapy, which makes it great for reducing pains by strengthening the body. Functional movement helps restore your body’s natural range of motion and proper postural alignment. Which allows it to help with knee, back, shoulder and overall joint pain. This type of workout is ideal for people who want to reduce pain and be as comfortable as possible while moving through their daily lives. While many people avoid exercises because of joint or back pain, functional training is low-impact and actually helps reduce pain (when done correctly) — that’s a win-win!

Reduce Chances of Injury

Functional movement training helps reduce injury in the same way that it works to improve back and joint pain, it balances out your bodies postural alignments, while improving your movement patterns through re-training the Central Nervous System. Regular workouts can overwork areas you are tight, knotted up, and over activated leaving you in pain, which can make you uncomfortable throughout your day and in later workouts, or worse re-aggravates an injury. Functional movement training can help to keep you from getting injured and reduces stress on your body, because the muscles are not the only things that are strengthened during functional training… Tendons, ligaments, and other connective tissues are strengthened as well, which are what often become injured. So strengthening your tendons & ligaments will help reduce injury!

These are a few of the many benefits that functional movement training can provide you. Whether you are new to the fitness world, have pains you are trying to deal with, or want to improve stability, mobility, and flexibility, this is the type of workout you need! Now that you know the benefits of functional training, you can start incorporating it into your regular workout routine and reap the benefits!

Be sure to learn more about the Health By Ratio program and how our coach, Madison Doubroff, can help you! Contact us with any questions you may have and get started today. Functional movement training could be just what you need to live a more comfortable and healthier life.

Favorite Functional Exercises

  1. “Cook Bridges”- This is a great glute bridge variation! Made famous by Gray Cook-Functional PT and founder of FMS (Functional Movement Screen)
  2. Reverse Lunge to Overhead Reaches- Great for opening up the hip flexors and shoulder girdle after a long day of sitting at a desk.
  3. Kneeling Band Chops- To engage your core by stabilizing it throughout a cross body pulling motion. Can be done low to high or high to low.
  4. Sumo Squat to Rows- Sumo squats (with your feet straight) are great for opening up your inner thighs/external rotation in your hips, while rows strengthen your mid back musculature for proper posture.
  5. Deadlifts- This can be done with a barbell, set of dumbbells (off a slightly elevated platform), with a kettlebell, or essentially any weight you can pick up off of the ground.
  6. Kettlebell Swings- This is a higher intensity exercise for your hamstrings and glutes, but when done properly is very low impact and safe for most individuals. Note: The straight leg version is much safer on the back than the squat version… technically the squat kettlebell swing isn’t a KB swing anyways.