Tags: posture

So what exactly is Functional Movement?

So you’ve heard me mention functional movement a few times, I went to a whole conference on it in Raleigh, it’s a bit of a buzzword in the fitness world these days but you may not be exactly sure what it really means, or what it means for you.

What IS functional movement? 

A basic definition of functional movement is: movement that is based on real-world biomechanics.  These movements are usually multi-planar, multi-joint and require adequate motor control. In other words functional movements are usually whole body movements that can be applied in many different real-world situations – think about a squat, or pulling and pushing progressions – these are movements we use variations of many many times a day – going from sitting to standing, pushing a box on an overhead shelf, pulling the cord to start your lawn mower…

If that’s still not particularly clear – contrast functional movement to something like sport-specific movement or muscle-specific movement.   For instance – sport-specific movements might be hitting a baseball, a tennis serve, kicking a soccer ball – while there is often some cross-over between sports-specific and functional movements, sport-specific movements tend to be of higher complexity and less broadly applicable to everyday life.  Muscle-specific movements aim to isolate a specific muscle so that it alone (or mostly) is doing the work – think bicep curl, or leg extension machine.  These exercises are generally less practical in day to day life, there are very rarely times when you will be required to use an isolated muscle to complete a task outside of a gym.

Why does this matter?

Think about it, have you ever injured yourself and realized exactly how difficult it was to do basic every-day things like put on shoes, or sit on the toilet, or get a shirt on or off?  I know I have, and pretty much every one of my patients has experienced this at some point.  That is dysfunctional movement and pain.  However, it is entirely possible (and very common) to have dysfunctional movement without pain and you may not even be aware of it.  What do you think happens over time if you have a non-painful dysfunctional movement pattern?  If your answer is get injured, dingdingding! you win! If we don’t correct dysfunctional movement patterns, over time they will become more dysfunctional and likely set us up for future injury. This is where movement screening and assessment comes in.

What is a movement assessment/screen and why would I need one? 

A movement screen is used if you don’t currently experience any pain and it is used to predict injury risk.  By rating your movements in a screen, your score will tell you how functional/dysfunctional your movements are.  A movement assessment is used when pain exists.  Since pain absolutely alters the way we move, we have to look at it a bit differently and try to determine what is causing the inability/dysfunction.

In the words of Gray Cook:
“Movement screening and movement assessment are important because these two systems bridge the gap between real life activities, and medical or performance testing and advanced biomechanical analysis.”

In the sports medicine world it is a well-know fact that the biggest predictor of injury is previous injury.  So, how do we get better at preventing injury? – we can’t just look at tissues and joints and ranges of motion, we have to look at the big picture, not just all the pieces, but also how our brains are talking to them.  And one way to do this is to look at both the quality and quantity of movement in a standardized way, such as through a functional movement screen (FMS) or a selective functional movement assessment (SFMA).  As most of my patients are already in pain when I see them, I decided to start incorporating the SFMA into my practice. This is a big piece of what I learned at the Functional Movement Summit out in Raleigh and I think it fits beautifully into Anatomy Acupuncture’s practice paradigm.  So, be on the look out – I’ll probably be assessing your movement in the near future.

One more thought: 

We don’t move in isolation.  I often say to my patients when they come in with pain somewhere – that for better or worse everything is connected.  Sometimes it’s wonderful we work that way, and sometimes it’s a pain in the you know what – it’d much easier if it was isolated.  However, since in fact everything IS connected, and sometimes (often) where you hurt isn’t where the problem is, the same is true with movement – the things we have to do daily, that allow us to be functional, are not isolated movements – they involve multiple muscles, coordination, joint mobility and stability and motor control.  Movements, even simple ones, are whole body affairs.  How well are you moving?

More on this topic soon!

heal faster. move better.


Long time no talk!

Hi!  Apologies for the lag time since my last post. You may be wondering what’s going on at Anatomy Acupuncture these days and here’s your update:

I’ve been trying to keep cool in Portland’s thus far hot summer weather, if you are too stay tuned for some at home tips to stay cool and collected in the heat!

Nonsense Dance Company closed out their 6th season with a fabulous show at the Dolores Winningstad theater. The dancers were strong, beautiful and emotionally moving.  It is such a pleasure to be able to work with these talented artists and I am honored to have been a sponsor of the company the past 3 seasons!  The dancers have grown so much, it is such a delight to see!

In other clinic news I have been treating a lot of numbness and tingling lately – really successfully! If you or someone you know suffers from these symptoms – you don’t have to, Anatomy Acupuncture can help!

In my ever continuing quest to deepen my education and learn more so I can help you heal faster and move better, I am currently en-route to the Functional Movement Summit.  While there I will find out more about assessing and correcting dysfunctional movement patterns – and I can’t wait to see how this will inform my treatments and integrate it into my practice.  Among other awesome speakers on the list, I am excited to learn from Gray Cook in person.  Should be an awesome week! I’ll be sharing updates and tidbits on twitter and  facebook throughout – so check back!

That’s what we’re up to – how is your summer treating you? What are you doing to heal faster and move better?  I’d love to know!


What Is a Foam Roller, How Do I Use It, and Why Does It Hurt? | Breaking Muscle

I’m sure you’ve heard about foam rolling – everyone’s doing it these days!  It’s not just a fad, though, foam rolling is a great self-care tool you can use to keep yourself in tip-top performance shape and help avoid over-use injuries during your training.  Plus, if you’re anything like me you will come to enjoy the “good pain” feeling foam rolling provides (much like deep tissue massage).

If you’re wondering what exactly foam rolling does, and why you would even want to try it,  Breaking muscle just published a tutorial on how to do it properly as well as why you might want to.   Read their tutorial here: What Is a Foam Roller, How Do I Use It, and Why Does It Hurt? | Breaking Muscle.

In their article they mention a movement screen – this is a functional movement (such as a squat) that can give the observer information about muscle imbalance and this can inform your self-care – which muscles you need to foam roll and which you don’t.  Here at anatomy acupuncture we can provide a movement screen for you, show you how to foam roll in addition to other exercises that can help correct your muscle imbalance helping you be pain-free and perform better.   Give us a call at: 971/219.2394 to schedule a session today!

Also – we carry several sizes and densities of high quality foam rollers at the clinic for purchase – just ask!

“Get knowledge of the spine, for this is the requisite for many diseases.” Hippocrates, 469-377 BC.

Hippocrates was right, in my opinion. And Hua To, one of the most famous Chinese physicians and surgeons of the Han dynasty, agrees. It was he who starting using the “jia ji” points that run along either side of the spine to treat all sorts of organ diseases as well as musculoskeletal problems.

The kidneys are intimately related to the spine as well as bones, joints and the low back in TCM

His ability to understand the connections between the spine and the function of the rest of the body were well ahead of his time, and his “jia ji” points are now known the world over as “Hua To Jia Ji” points for this very reason.

As a part of my ongoing learning, I just spent the last week in Boston doing some in-depth spinal anatomy (cadavers and all!), learning spinal assessment techniques, needle techniques and more as part of the Sports Medicine Acupuncture Certification Program. This program is something I’ll be attending periodically over the next 6 months, so it’s not the last you will hear about it – especially since it just gets me all fired up with new and better ways to help you feel better. The most exciting part of this module (believe me, it’s hard to pick just one favorite part) was learning how to assess posture and develop a corrective exercise prescription to address the muscle imbalances. I can’t wait to make you a more active part of your treatment. These exercises will make your recovery from injury more efficient, keep you pain free for longer and correct structural imbalances so you are less likely to re-injure yourself .

We spent a long time learning about vertebral fixation- vertebra should have independent motion;  when several lock together and move as a unit due to trauma, degeneration or muscle imbalance we call it a fixation –  as well as how to assess, treat and prevent them.  Fixations are important to identify because they will impede nerve signaling coming out of the spine – over time this can lead to muscular problems, weakness, pain and more.

The amount of information and practical knowledge gained was immense.  I can’t wait to implement all the new things I learned in the clinic, so get ready fore some changes to Anatomy Acupuncture, and don’t be surprised if you walk away from your next treatment with some homework!