By Bentz Tozer, Jr., B.S., CPT
Put simply, functional strength-training (FST) is exercise that trains the body for activities performed in daily life. It originated with physical and occupational rehabilitation, with therapists using FST to retrain patients with movement disorders or patients who had been injured or who had surgery.
When we think of traditional strength-training, we generally think of exercises that isolate particular muscles – for example, bicep curls or squats. These exercises train specific muscles and increase the strength, size and force-producing capability of said muscle.
FST transfers the strength improvements to other body movements by affecting the entire nervous and muscular systems.
The human body performs all sorts of movements in daily life, like walking, running, twisting, reaching, standing, climbing and bending. All of these activities involve smooth, rhythmic motions. FST trains the specific whole movements, not just the muscles. Functional strength is the strength that allows us to perform the daily tasks of life and is equally as important as the strength that enables us to lift challenging weights in our workouts.
The goal of FST is to train the body to move through various types of everyday movements freely. It involves coordination, speed and range of motion.
One of the most important things it does is help increase core-stabilization. This enables the body to better control itself during different movements, such as balancing and reaching.
The exercises are normally multi-joint, multi-muscle exercises, focusing on getting full range of motion. Some examples of this are step-ups with weights or multi-directional lunges. Lunges, in particular, can help prepare the body for normal activities, like vacuuming or raking leaves. Exercises such as these improve both the body’s strength and endurance. It also improves flexibility and agility, which in turn, lowers the risk of injury.
FST is an important part of a total exercise plan. By improving the body’s strength and flexibility, daily tasks are accomplished more easily with less pain and/or injury risk.
Be Well Tips
– Speak with a physician before beginning or changing any exercise program.
– Incorporate Functional Strength-Training into your workouts.
– Improve flexibility and agility to lower injury risk.
– Improve strength and endurance to perform daily tasks more easily.
– Focus on getting full range of motion during exercise.