Wednesday, 27 July 2016

Functional stability

From my course, Functional Foundations for Health, Fitness and Wellbeing Professionals:

Joanne Elphinson spent a lot of time talking about the importance of the body being capable of producing appropriate responses to the many and varied external elements challenging it, for instance being knocked into, tripping over, stretching and twisting to reach something, carrying something heavy, changing direction rapidly. 

She clarified core stability versus strength, and highlighted how it is one thing to keep on training for a stronger set of central muscles but another to be able to utilise that strength effectively. She finds that many people already have more then sufficient core strength for what they wish to achieve and need only to learn how to engage it as part of their functional stability and effective movement and management of forces.

Joanne has drawn up what she calls the Pillars of Functional Stability in her book 'Stability, Sport and Performance Movement: practical biomechanics and systematic training for movement efficacy and injury prevention'. 

She sees these pillars as the foundations from which to develop speed, power, strength, agility, flexibility and injury resistance. They include:

'Functional mobility: the ability to move through the full range of movement under dynamic conditions.

Balance: the ability to organise the body over its support point quickly and accurately.

Posture: the neuromuscular relationships that optimise joint motion and muscular action, trigger automatic stabilising activity and minimise structural stress on the body.

Optimal functional motor pattern: the timing, proportion and sequencing of muscular activation.

Neuromuscular response and control: the unconscious, automatic activation of joint stabilising muscles to prepare for the impulse to move, or respond to rapid, sudden or unexpected body control challenges of loading.

Movement symmetry: the balance of movement and counter-movement around a controlled central axis in the body'
(Elphinston 2013 p28) 

Much of the four days of the course was spent exploring this in ourselves and each other. It was fascinating how different challenges revealed weaknesses in one or more of our 'pillars' and how quickly (sometimes!) the brain and hence body could adjust and adapt given suitable cues. Sometimes we performed well initially but problems emerged as the challenge increased. It was also fascinating to see how we all develop compensation strategies that are often extremely successful and don't cause any problems at all until we wish to to push ourselves that little bit further.

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