I remember the days of the fitness industry of the mid-2000’s when I started to do exercise for my own injury management and weight loss, and signed up to my first gym. Gyms were practically all the same, people focused mainly on upper body and ‘traditional bodybuilding’ exercises, people used to read bodybuilding magazines and the whole industry seemed to be more focused on supplements than anything else. Fast forward to 2020 and now there are all sorts of different gyms with different forms of training: F45, Crossfit and powerlifting probably being the main popular ones. While bodybuilding magazines and supplements still exist on a less in-your-face scale, thankfully the world has shifted focus to functional training with movements which more accurately approximate real-life movements and activities rather than just ‘getting big’.
Why is it important to involve functional movements?
As a Sports & Exercise Physiotherapist, this is a very welcome evolution of the fitness industry. It is important that injury rehabilitation involves functional movements rather than just single-joint, single-muscle group isolation exercises. Sure, somebody with a calf strain will require some form of calf raises to help strengthen the calf again in isolation, but ultimately that person may be returning to a sport like football which requires sprinting, pivoting, changes of direction, backpedaling, jumping and landing - and thus good injury rehabilitation needs consideration of these requirements.
How do we get you back on track?
Rehabilitation that involves purely single-joint and isolation strengthening will help to get you back to your normal routine activities, but will not prepare you for your higher level hobbies such as sport, running, physical work duties and even physical home duties. Part of being a good physiotherapist includes teaching more than just isolation strengthening exercises, and no rehabilitation is complete unless one has been doing exercises for their injury which are functional for their activities. For example, if someone who loves golf presents which a shoulder injury which requires rotator cuff strengthening, then a good physiotherapy program may involve rotator cuff strengthening in isolation, but then consider that a golf swing involves the whole body as a chain including foot placement, hip rotation and trunk rotation amongst other things to help generate power. In other words, a golf swing involves alot more than just the shoulder, and thus management of the injury will include considering the trunk and hips as there will be greater demand on the shoulder if other parts of the body aren’t moving well enough or strong enough for an optimal golf swing. For shoulder problems, the same could be said for a tennis player, cricketer, baseballer or anyone who plays a throwing sport.
The following is an example of an upper body exercise which is not functional:
The classic seated dumbbell overhead press is a great exercise for isolating the deltoids and triceps and is common amongst bodybuilders and gym enthusiasts generally. However there is no trunk rotation whatsoever as the trunk is fixed by the bench, she is seated and her legs are relatively passive. Overall this is a very non-functional movement. In the next post I will provide 3 alternatives to an overhead press which are much more functional and have better carry-over from rehab to sport compared with the traditional versions.
How can we help you?
At Melbourne Sports Physiotherapy our goal is to get you moving pain free as soon as possible. But, we also want you to actually move better and live a healthier, more active and fulfilling life!
If your sports, fitness training or work has been wearing your body down, book in with one of our expert physiotherapists or massage therapists so we can help you reduce your pain and get you moving again.
You can make an appointment by calling 03 9498 0205 or booking online.