We’re now into the top five of my blog-series: My Favourite Training Tools (For my American readers, please excuse the ‘u’ in favourite. It’s a Canadian thing). There are probably thousands of tools out there for fitness. Some are ridiculous fly-by-night items (I can’t help but think of the Saturday Night Live commercial spoof of the Shaker Weight) while some have stood the test of time for hundreds of years (kettlebells). In each entry in this blog series, I’ll talk about one of my 10 favourite tools.
Today’s entry features the Functional Movement Screen (FMS). This makes my list even though it does nothing to get you strong. That’s because it is an assessment tool. I love this tool because it helps me to see where people have problems with the fundamental way that they move, and then that helps me to create a great training program for them that will not only get them “faster, higher, stronger”, but will also help fix movement dysfunction that they have developed in life.
“Dysfunction always precedes pain”. This is a common concept that I have heard pass the lips of some very impressive presenters in the fields of rehab and training. It makes sense if you think about it.
I will suggest that an overuse injury is really cumulative dysfunction.
It starts with some minor limitation. Maybe hip extension is lacking in a runner. No real problem. It is not painful, and in fact it is not even noticeable. But since it is lacking, there will be unconscious addition of lumbar rotation during gait. Not even slightly noticeable to the runner. Maybe they have been doing it for years. Their body can tolerate lots of repetitions of this movement – maybe hundreds of thousands. But then one day, they move that way for the 200,311th time (or whatever the number is for the specific person and dysfunction), and a very slight discomfort occurs in their low back. Not a big deal though. It doesn’t hurt during the run, just a bit after. Or maybe it hurts about 4km into the run, but goes away pretty quickly after. And so they continue on as usual. But as the dysfunctional movement accumulates, so too does the pain.
Most of us that experience overuse injuries cannot pinpoint when it started, because it starts so gradually. And in all likelihood, the dysfunction that caused the first onset of pain started long before the pain did.
The FMS helps me to find those dysfunctions before they become painful, and to provide my clients with appropriate exercises to potentially prevent them turning into injuries. Which is kind of cool if you think about it.
Check out this US News article (from 2009 – not sure how it has eluded me for so long) for a description of what the FMS is like from the client perspective.
Wondering what my 9 other favourite training tools are? Here’s the list (Click on any of the links to go to the article to find out why):
- Free weights
- Functional trainer (sometimes called a cable column)
- Functional Movement Screen
- Suspension trainer
- Chin up bar
- Agility ladder
- Foam roll
If you enjoyed this blog post, please share it. Do you have favourite gym tools that didn’t make my list (yet)? Share below, along with your why.