This post courtesy Rehab United and  Justin Robinson, MA,RD,CSSD,CSCS


Many athletes and coaches have a misconception of functional training – incorporating the latest and greatest equipment like BOSU balls, balance discs, and kettle bells does not automatically make a program functional. Such pieces of equipment are great tools to use in training, but the design of the workout, not the exercises, make a program functional. Functional training is purposeful training – it involves assessing current needs of an athlete (fitness level, injuries, muscle imbalances, etc) and creating specific strategies to address those needs.

1) Three-Dimensional Training. Every time your foot hits the ground, the muscles in your body are either accelerating (increasing speed of movement) or decelerating (slowing movement) in all three planes of motion (sagittal, frontal, and transverse – see figure below). Training in only one plane (e.g. working on the leg extension machine) will not prepare you for the nature of sport. Keys of Functional Training

2) Training Movements, not the Muscles. Coaches often use the thought process that if running involves the quads, hamstrings, and calves, they should work those muscles to increase strength, thus improving running performance. Name any sport, though, in which you only move an isolated joint . . . darts is the only one that comes to mind and most people train for that by doing the 12-ounce can curl. Multi-joint movements are essential in training since the body moves that way in sport – it is more applicable to consider training movements, such as ankle, knee, and hip extension, rather than each muscle independently. The lunge reach matrix (below) is an example of an exercise that trains these movements in all three planes.

Rehab United Physical Therapy and Sports Performance Center (RU) specializes in a progressive approach to evaluation, rehabilitation, injury prevention and performance training. We also provide massage therapy, ART, orthotic fittings, and nutrition counseling to offer the most comprehensive fitness and wellness program in San Diego. Our licensed Physical Therapists and certified Strength & Conditioning Coaches ensure success by training the body the way it was intended to move and creating strategies that improve movement patterns, not just individual muscles.
Stay tuned for Part II including Transformation and Overload

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