You’d think that a very high level athlete would by definition have functional movement patterns, right?

An athlete who performs well is very often  not functional, but is very good at compensating. Function and Performance are NOT the same thing.

Here are a a couple of quotes from Gray Cooks book Movement :

“Specialized activities will always lead toward a degree of fundamental compromise.”

“When basic momvement is limited or compromised, it  follows the natural laws of energy  conservation, compensation and avoidance of pain (testing) avoidance of the unfamiliar and the essential rendencies of survival.”

What happens whe we engage in movement and physical activity?

Response– Something that changes almost immediately, like heart rate, range of motion, fatigue, sweating, etc. or  later like muscle soreness.  Many people associate the immediate response with progress, but that ain’t always the case.

 Adaptation- This is the one most of us are after, and takes longer. Bigger, stronger, leaner, faster….add up enough responses over time and you get meaningful adaptation. This is the body in survival mode, seeking efficiency. You get stronger so that the next time that stimulus comes around you won’t need to work as hard. You get leaner because your body is using up the energy it had the good sense to store up when you were putting away all that Mexican food. All so it can survive. This is good.  If you have good baseline movement, this is where you wind up. If you do not, the you get……

 Compensation- This is where survival meets adaptation. You keep doing things that reinforce a faulty movement pattern for a few hundred thousand reps and you wind up with a very efficient faulty movement that is assymetrical and leds to injury. Asymmetrical movement patterns occur in the body, that is fact.  This happens as a response to stimulus and is a natural adaptation. Bleeding occurs naturally in response to the stimulus of a knife blade as well, that doean’t mean it is healthy or desirable. 

“Specific activities (like swinging a golf club or baseball bat) can serve to undo a basic functional level, forcing the body to work only in certain patterns, and this is okay if we take countermeasures”-Cook

What are those countermeasures?  How do we know if we are moving well or if we are compounding a problem? 

The Functional Movement Screen is where I begin and end everything. It is the best way to understand what is going on in regards to movement patterns. Get screened. From there of course it depends on the specific of the screen, but here are some principles (also from Movement) to help guide you into balanced movement patterns.

Separate painful movement patterns from dysfunctional movement patterns to create clarity and perspective. Do not exercise around pain hoping it will mysteriously get better.  The other side of this is just because it doesn’t hurt, doesn’t mean that it is functioning pattern.  Unless you measure, you don’t know.

The starting point for movement is a reproducible baseline. What is “reproducible”? Measure like against like. If you are constantly changing your standard of measurement you’ll get a different reading of the same result. $100 + $50= $150 is a 50% increase.  $150-$50=$100 is a .33333% decrease. The measuement is different, but it’s still $50.

Do not put fitness on top of dysfunction.  Fitness is not the fundamental baseline for movement, because it is performance-based.  Nor is movement is not the fundamental baseline for fitness. It is very possible for fit people to move poorly and for unfit people to move very well.