Functional Movement Workshop

The past weekend, at Competitive EDGE, I had the pleasure of hosting many local physical therapists and trainers for a live training seminar and workshop on functional and sports based movement.

I have always enjoyed teaching, and I especially enjoy teaching professionals, students, and athletes about exercise, movement, and physical therapy.  

Teaching proper jumping and landing mechanics using the force plate. These days there are countless disciplines of movement including Pilates, dance, yoga, CrossFit, Chi running...the list goes on.  Each of these exercise forms has their own set of movement "rules".  What is deemed perfect movement at yoga likely is deemed all wrong at CrossFit.

It is easy to understand how people can get confused when trying to figure out the BEST way to move after herniating their lumbar disc or while recovering from meniscus surgery.

One of the goals of this workshop was to provide a standardization of movement that is built on the biomechanics of the human body.  Biomechanics of human movement looks at factors such as joint angle measurements, joint forces, impact forces, muscle activation, and sport performance.  This hard data helps to optimize movement for injury prevention, joint protection, and overall body health.

Capturing 3D movement angles during running There are certain movements that are a part of everyday life and most sports.  These movements include:

After reading this list many of you might be thinking "I already know how to do those movements correctly."  During the workshop, using the force plate and video as feedback, many attendees realized these movements are difficult to perform at "game-speed".  Doing a slow lunge does take some work to master; however, doing a lunge to deceleration at full speed without altered alignment is quite a challenge.  

Demonstrating a proper lunge with muscle EMG feedback to improve gluteus activation 

Using muscle EMG feedback to teach a "hip strategy" squat

The overall goal of physical therapy intervention is improve movement behavior by aiding clients to learn a new "motor plan".

Physical therapy is not about doing a set list of exercises for the rest of your life as if the exercises in-and-of themselves is the key variable in pain reduction.  The key variable is proper movement which alleviates tissue strain and improves function. 

The exercises are a means to have the building blocks necessary to perform correct movement.  A well designed physical therapy plan of care will seek to normalize:

Each physical therapy program should be progressive in nature in order to reach the ultimate goal of proper biomechanical movement.

If the order or design of your rehabilitation plan is not coordinated or built on a solid foundation you end doing a lot of exercises but never "learning movement". 


Talent without discipline is like an octopus on roller skates.  There's plenty of movement, but you never know if it's going to be forward, backwards, or sideways. 
-  H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

The best news is that physical therapists can not only help you recover from injury or surgery but they can also help you decrease your chances of getting injured.  Why wait until an injury keeps you from playing soccer, dancing, or running.  If you have had on and off pain or don't feel as strong or stable as you would like to be in your sport, then visit a physical therapist for a movement evaluation.

Teaching shock absorption and power generation using the force plate

I love being a physical therapist.  It allows me to have a profound impact in people's lives by restoring movement that allows people to experience the things in life they love. 

Written by:
Kevin Vandi DPT, OCS, CSCS

Serving San Jose, Campbell, Los Gatos, Almaden