Functional/Non Functional Debate

TheKettleBellPhysioBlog, Uncategorized0 Comments

Here’s a recent post from Ben Cormack. I haven’t ‘shared’ it as it now has a lot of comments which may sidetrack some readers from Ben’s message. It’s worth considering if the term ‘functional’ has come your way as justification for a treatment or intervention from a Physiotherapist, trainer or other health professional.

“I really hate the functional/non functional debate when it comes to exercises & movement.

It is the way you use an exercise that makes it functional.
How you apply it, to whom, when and what it does in terms of the outcome.

(Although just saying someone needs strength or balance so it’s functional is not great reasoning IMO). Isolated quad strengthening is functional if you lack the required strength.

More function based exercises maybe non functional if the system is given the opportunity to complete the task in a way that protects the injured body part. This is what we often see in the research data post injury.

To an athlete the plank could be functional if they need to increase spinal stiffness.

They could also be non functional for someone with back pain who finds it hard to ‘turn off’ their core muscles.

Someone else may need very specific exposure to a certain movement or type of load.

Not doing ANYTHING physical and just talking may be the most functional for someone else.

A reasoning process is what we often lack with exercises preferring to simply label them rather than think about the applicability to the current state and needs of who we are working with.
I try really hard to stay away from recipes and protocols with my teaching but it becomes clear that some people often come for the techniques, exercises and recipes rather than deeper thinking. (Although a criticism maybe I am to nebulous – I am working at that!)
Simply having more things to do may not be better. Instead fewer things with more reasoning may be much more beneficial. It just all depends.

I will get off my soap box now!”

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