Is Your Functional Functioning? Part 2

Welcome back for part 2 of the “Is Your Functional Functioning” series. In Is Your Functional Functioning: Part 1 of this series we briefly discussed function and took a look at the four foundations or pillars of function. During part 2 we will look in-depth at why is it important to approach function differently. By changing this approach the foundations of function can easily be transformed into functional movements and exercises that will have greater benefits to the population that you are serving.

The “Why’s” of the “What’s”

Getting to function is the equivalent to traveling. Sometimes it’s as close as down the block while other times it’s like traveling across the country. Getting to your “destination” can be a unique challenge based upon the mode of travel you choose to arrive there. The “mode” of travel in which you choose is going to determine what is appropriate in reaching function. This is the difference in understanding why we chose a particular plan of action,exercise prescription, or goals set and  merely “doing” because we once did it before, saw it on youtube, or learned “that’s the way it is done”.

Why are we doing “it”?

The first step to arriving at function begins with a couple of choice “why’s”.

  • Why did we choose a certain way to measure the outcome of our program/protocol?
  • Why did we set these short-term and long-term goals?
  • Why did we prescribe this exercise?

If you are unable to answer those questions whether you are the athlete/patient/client or the person treating or training them, then your functional is not functioning at all. Without any objective/measurable data to give you direction all you simply know is that a golfer or a tennis player came in to see you and they may or may not be getting better based solely upon subjectivity. Without any short-term or long-term goals you don’t know what the athlete/patient/client really wants or is trying to work on. Without the first two , you won’t be able to prescribe exercises that will be considered functional. With the proper evaluation that has a functional assessment component, clinical assessment component, and clear-cut short-term and long-term goals set by a collaborative effort between you and the athlete/patient/client you both will know “why” you are taking the actions you took.

Why is “it” relevant?

The second step to arriving at function is being relevant. This can come in many forms but basically boils down to; does it look, smell, and taste like what your athlete/patient/client does?  If so you are on the right track. If it doesn’t then you may be missing the mark.  In order to reach function these are the things to consider:

Body Position

Does this persons needs require them to sit,stand, or lay?

Does this person do more squatting, lunging, hip hinging?

Do they reach with their hand or hands below,level, or above shoulder height?

Muscle groups incorporated 

What muscle group or groups are used to perform these activities?

How many joints interact with the motion?

What muscle fiber types does this person require?


Implementation of accessories

Does this person use a ball, racket, glove, bat, baton, or any other accessory in their activity?

What playing surface do they use? (underwater,turf, grass, hardwood court, clay court, etc.)

So why are these things relevant?  When we look at body position its relevant for several reasons; knowing what your athlete/patient/client does will make it easier to assess and prescribe exercises appropriately.


Once the relevancy has been reviewed it must go through another rigorous test. This involves several concepts and principles of biomechanics and kinesiology that must be understood and  adhered to during the process of finding function. These concepts and principles include:

S.A.I.D. principle

Specific Adaption to Imposed Demand principle, simply states that your body will adapt SPECIFICALLY to the demands you place upon it. When we train or treat someone it is critical to understand that the body is constantly adapting to what we are putting that person through. The body will adapt and remember what positions, muscle groups that were trained, and how well the accessories were implemented when we trained or treated them. In the most basic sense if you treat someone on a table the entire time, if you train someone into failure, if you don’t train the proper energy systems, or if you don’t have this person throw or dribble a ball before they are released or compete, they will be unsuccessful and be at risk for injury or re-injury.

Linear and Rotational motion

Linear rotation is a force that always acts in a particular direction, such as weight – which always acts vertically.The continuation of this line is the line of action of the force. Whereas rotary motion is a force that occurs around a joint axis. When it comes to treating and training people these two combined concepts are pivotal to the success of a person. There must be an integration of forward linear motion with rotary motion in order to obtain the optimum results in movement. It is impossible for anyone to be functional if combining these concepts is not taken into consideration. This is the difference between someone running a 4.7 or a 4.3 40 meter dash or someone’s first step after performing a cross over being dangerously successful or just enough to propel them forward. This idea is also the difference in assessing or prescribing a lunge or a lunge while rotating your thoracic spine, another example is dead lifting versus dead lifting with rotation. The people or person you are providing a service to will be able to transmit forces much more successfully thus decreasing shearing forces that increase the chances of injury and lower performance. By approaching function with this in mind it makes assessment and exercise prescription a truly functional experience that better benefits the athlete/patient/client.

Velocity, Muscle Fiber type, and energy systems

In its most simplest form velocity means speed. Knowing the velocity in which to train someone makes the difference in successfully training a mid distance athlete like a soccer player, a long distance athlete like a cross-country athlete, or a short distance athlete like a 100 meter dash sprinter.  In tandem with training and treatment velocity its important to know what muscle fiber types and energy systems are being trained. There are technically 7 muscle fiber types; type I, IC, IIA, IIB,IIC, and IIAB. Type I fibers are typically slow twitch fibers that fatigue slowly over time, type II fibers are fast twitch and fatigue rather quickly,and the intermediate fibers of IIAB which contain traits of both. Then there are the energy systems: ATP-PC(high-power short duration, Glycolitic ( moderate power moderate duration), and oxidative (low power low duration). Taking into consideration all of these factors is what makes the difference in how well prepared your athlete/patient/client is.


Serape Effect and functional lines

The serape effect is essentially a myofascial sling the consists of the rhomboids, serratus anterior, external obliques and internal obliques. During dynamic motions such as throwing and kicking, the serape muscles add to the summation of internal forces. The myofascial sling also transfer internal force from a large body segment, the trunk, to relatively smaller body parts, the limbs. For example, the serape effect functions in throwing by summating, adding to, and transferring the internal forces generated in the lower limbs and pelvis to the throwing limb. This relationship between the upper extremities and the lower extremities is further demonstrated by the Functional lines of the body. These lines consist of connections between muscles that connect opposite shoulders in both the front and back of the body. The Front Functional Line begins with the pectoralis major and its connection to the lower ribs, where it has myofascial continuity with the rectus abdominis to the pubic bone and down via the contralateral adductor longus. This forms a functional line of mechanical connection during movement activities.The Back Functional Line begins with the latissimus dorsi muscle and connects into the lumbosacral fascia and crosses over to the gluteus maximus on the contralateral side. The line continues into the iliotibial band and vastus lateralis muscle on the lateral thigh. These concepts take the idea of functional to a completely different level when we look at the traditional exercises discussed in part 1.


image image

If you are wondering why your functional is not functioning, something may be missing. Getting to that place however is much easier when you apply some of the “why’s” that were addressed in part 2. Whether you are the athlete/patient/client or the person treating or training them it is critical to know why you are doing “it”. In part 3 of “Is Your Functional Functioning ” I will address how do you get there. Thank you for reading!

Audric Warren

Is Your Functional Functioning? Part 2

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s