With its ability to move in multiple directions in complex combinations, the human body is capable of extraordinary movement diversity. This makes an enormous range of movements possible but this versatility can become our greatest challenge to technical proficiency. It permits unwanted movements, which then require increased muscle tension to try to control them. It allows deviation from the most effective lines of motion, compromising efficiency. It enables variability in joint angles, timing and movement sequencing which can amplify control problems under conditions of increasing complexity, fatigue, speed, agility, endurance or technical demand.
The source of injury, movement deficiency or dysfunction is often not a singular event or has a single cause in any given person. Pain of a chronic nature often results from poor stabilization and movement strategies, and is frequently caused by “chain reactions” as the entire body adapts to local areas of injury or dysfunction. Rather than treating a local area of pain, it is important to identify the most relevant or ‘weak’ link driving most of the chain reaction patterns, since treatment of this key link will often normalize the entire movement chain.
The end goal of any corrective exercise, rehabilitation strategy or conditioning program is to improve performance in fundamental and functional movement patterns and reduce likelihood of injury. By utilizing the principles of athletic development, which are equally applicable to a sedentary individual, elite athlete or injured person, a functional approach to training and rehabilitation focuses on movement efficiency in managing movement system pain and dysfunction.
Humans are born with certain "operating systems" that function outside our conscience awareness. The ability of the heart to beat, the digestive system to process food into useable fuel and the respiratory system to oxygenate our tissues are examples of human "operating systems" at work. Our ability to move as humans is developed from such basic programs. An infant does not need to be taught how to lift its head, grasp a toy, roll over or crawl.
These movements patterns occur automatically in a specific sequence and form the basis for all of the more complex human movements related to gait, level changes (squatting, lunging and climbing), pushing, pulling and rotating.
Basic trunk or core stabilization is a function of this preprogrammed, automatic movement "operating system", and is a prerequisite for all movements in all postures. The normal function of this preprogrammed stabilizing system can become disrupted through injury, repetitive motion, sustained postures that stress muscles, ligaments and joints and also by emotional and psychological stresses. Ultimately, if the function of the movement system becomes sufficiently disrupted, the sensation of pain will arise. Pain is an indication that the brain perceives an area of the body is under sufficient threat or potential for damage that action is required to cease the perceived offending activity. Pain has been shown to alter the normal function of the movement system programs, precipitating alterations in fundamental movements.
Functional Movement Training is an extension of the traditional elements of injury management with the purpose to return the patient to highly complex movement patterns related to activities of daily living (ADLs), sport and recreation activities (SRA) and demands of employment (DE). While managing pain and inflammation and restoring flexibility and strength in the local area of injury or insult is important in the rehabilitation process, this functional approach recognizes that after injury adaptations occur in the movement system. These adaptations may exist long after symptomatic recovery from injury resulting in functional deficits that may be missed on a standard physical assessment.
Dr. Ward has completed extensive training in functional movement screening, assessment, rehabilitation and training, and uses an integrated neurodevelopmentally-based model heavily influenced by the Prague School methodology of Vladimir Janda, MD, Karel Lewit, MD and Pavel Kolar, PhD. He places a particular emphasis on breathing pattern disorders and myofascial chain imbalances and their impact on core stability deficits, chronic pain and sports and recreation-related movement dysfunction.