Today we’ll talk about the importance of functional training. Functional training is a classification of exercise that trains the body for activities performed in daily life. These exercises make it easier and safer to do the things you do everyday, picking up groceries, playing with your kids, carrying laundry upstairs, etc…..
Functional training is especially beneficial for adults over 40, as part of a comprehensive exercise program they can improve balance, agility and strength. All of which make daily activities easier and safer to perform, in addition to reducing the risk of falling.
Functional exercises train your muscles to work together just as they do during daily activities by simulating common movements you might do at home, work or in sports. Using muscles in the upper and lower body at the same time also strengthens the core and helps stability. These exercises tend to be multi-joint, multi-muscle exercises. Instead of just moving the elbows, you might incorporate the elbows, shoulders, spine, hips and knees.
Probably the most important area that functional training strengthens is the core. The core is the trunk of the body, hips to the chest. Think of the core as the central link between the upper and lower body. Most movements start in or move through the core area of the body. If the core is weak, it impairs how well the arms and legs function. A strong, flexible core affects all of the following and more.
Daily activities – bending over to put on your shoes or pick up a package, turning to look behind you or simply sitting in a chair. Bathing and dressing also call on your core.
Work activities – jobs that require physical activity such as standing, twisting or listing. If you sit at a desk for hours, this taxes your back muscles. Answering a phone, typing and computer use can make back muscles surprisingly sore and stiff, especially is posture is poor or you don’t take many breaks.
A healthy back – back pain can often be remedied by having strong core muscles. Many times when patients suffer from debilitating back pain, core strengthening exercises are prescribed in conjunction with physical therapy and/or medication. When you have good posture it lessens wear & tear on your spine as well.
Around the house – bending, lifting, twisting, carrying or reaching. Even vacuuming, mopping or dusting.
Balance & stability – the core stabilizes the body to move in any direction and lessens the risk of falling.
Try some of the functional exercises below, these can be done with or without weights. Always consult your doctor before starting an exercise program and practice safely.
Squat – great for the legs, glutes and core. Push the booty back, weight in the heels, pull the core in tight.
Lunge – skip this is your knees are weak or injured. Keep the knee over the ankle.
Overhead press – pull the belly in, tight core!
Bicep curl – squeeze the buns, tight core
Full or modified plank – pull the belly in towards the spine, push heels back, squeeze the buns. Pull it all in and breathe!