Move Well. Move Often.

This month we are continuing the discussion of what it takes to keep our functionality going well so that we can essentially move like we are fifty until we are eighty and more. 

In my April column, Defying Gravity, I wrote about the change in priorities many of our clients over fifty experience, shifting more in the direction of enhancing or preserving one’s lifestyle.

In my May column, You Can Said That Again, I posed two questions: What does it mean to move (functionally) really well, and how do you train for this? I then answered the second question first by writing about the importance of specificity in training, also known as the SAID Principle, leaving the first question for this month:

What does it mean to move (functionally) really well?

If you ask a hundred different fitness pros what this entails, you will likely get a hundred different answers, which is part of the challenge of making one’s way in the world of exercise. There is so much variety in terms of the offerings that you can attend, partly because there are so many different ways to move your own body!

This is something I wrestled with in my early years as a Pilates instructor and personal trainer. I had clients who could perform advanced Pilates exercises on the mat, reformer, and Cadillac, but who couldn’t perform a squat with competency. Similarly I had clients who could squat and lunge competently but couldn’t perform basic core-based Pilates exercises without losing their form. While the SAID principle certainly played a part in the difference, it couldn’t explain it all. 

I found myself wondering if there were a set of fundamental movement patterns that, once performed competently, would help to reduce the risk of injury while also providing the building blocks of mobility and motor control necessary for learning movements in any number of training modes.

More specifically, I wanted a baseline for good movement, something that was objective and reliable, that I could use to identify client’s weak links. I also wanted a set of robust correctives that help the clients establish in themselves a safe minimum of movement competency, which would in turn create a launch pad for more advanced movement or for adding external loads.

I finally found my answer in 2014 when I learned about Functional Movement Systems (FMS), whose motto is “Move Well. Move Often.” Created by founders Gray Cook and Lee Burton, the Functional Movement Screen is “an objective tool that measures 7 different fundamental movements that are key to daily life and determines if those movements are optimal, acceptable, or dysfunctional.”

In addition to the screen itself, which helps identify weak links in a client’s movement fundamentals, FMS provides a rich set of corrective exercises as well as programming for helping to increase functional movement competency. 

Does scoring well on the FMS screen mean you will never get injured? No. It is a tool for identifying risk of injury, and performing the correctives can help you reduce your risk, though it won’t negate them.

Does achieving a solid score on the FMS mean you’ll automatically be able to do back squat three hundred pounds? No, of course not. That requires skills training that incorporates the SAID principle as well as progressive overload

Then what is it good for? Measuring risk, reducing risk, and giving us an objective baseline of foundational movement from which we can pursue our goal of moving like we are fifty until we are eighty and more.

If you would like to go through a free Functional Movement Screen with me in the next month, please reply to this email and I will contact you to set up an appointment.

I’ll finish for now with a couple of good questions that will carry us into July: 

1. If you learned the Functional Movement Screen in 2014, why has it taken so long for you to write about it and promote it?

2. How do I get from these 7 baseline patterns to achieving a total quality of movement that let’s me enjoy the life that I want to achieve or maintain?

Stay tuned!

Best wishes,

Patrick

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