Wednesday, June 13, 2012

The Importance of a Functional Movement Analysis

Pain is inconvenient and enables us from doing what we love to do but it has a value and serves as a warning sign that something is wrong within our body.  Most people use pain as the only indicator of when something needs to be evaluated by a specialist.  Waiting for pain to happen is not the best indicator because it is often the last symptom to show up and the first to leave when something has gone wrong.  The intent of this article is to make you aware that a movement analysis by a trained professional can identify problems within the musculoskeletal system before symptoms of pain occur. 

Professional athletic teams have been using functional movement testing to discover if their athletes have any biomechanical imbalances or potential for injury even in the absence of pain.  Because pain is subjective (different to each person) it cannot be measured very accurately and is not the best indicator that something is wrong.  A thorough movement examination is objective and can be measured which makes it one of the best ways to predict and prevent injuries.  The goal of a good movement examination is to discover asymmetrical movement patterns and the lack of a tissues ability to stretch (tissue extensibility).    

With the knowledge of an athlete’s movement imbalances the athletic training staff will develop a fitness program and a therapeutic plan with the goal of improving that athlete’s weaknesses.  By acknowledging weaknesses and working to improve them you can reduce the risk of injury and enhance your athletic performance in any sport.  Non athletes can also benefit from a movement examination and a specific fitness and therapeutic plan because it will preserve the musculoskeletal system and slow the process of degeneration.  Not knowing your movement imbalances and setting up a training program is like going into a battle without any plan of how you are going to succeed. 

Most non traumatic athletic injuries are due to the repetitive overuse and strain of synergistic muscles asked to perform a task they cannot tolerate for prolonged periods of time. 

If muscles are not able to lengthen properly than synergistic muscles will strongly assist the desired movement.  This assistance is known as synergistic dominance or compensating movement patterns.  Movement compensations increase the risk of injury to synergistic muscles because they become overused and strained.  Movement compensations decrease athletic performance as well as place athletes at a higher risk of injury.  Functional movement testing identifies movement compensations so a plan can be developed to correct them and avoid musculoskeletal injuries.  If you have a functional movement analysis and implement the information into your fitness and therapy plan you can improve your athletic performance and avoid injuries before they happen.  It is important to find a therapist in your area who specializes in functional movement analysis and effective musculoskeletal therapies.  With their help you can avoid injuries and move as effortless and efficient as possible.

Dr. Todd Rodman, DC CSCS