Musculoskeletal conditions are rife. If you are human, alive, and know people; you are guaranteed to know someone who has experienced some kind of musculoskeletal pain, if you are lucky enough to have not experienced it yourself!
Why so common? You may ask. The problem is that we were designed to move, yet all too often, we move too little; move too much and over-do it, or move with poor quality and adopt faulty movement patterns.
Today’s modern world is ruled by technology and lends itself to many falling preys to the “sedentary” lifestyle. This way of life is generally spent sitting at a desk staring at a computer, driving in the car, lounging on a couch, and sleeping. If this routine fails to include regular exercise, this collection of people from the group that “Moves too little”.
The over-movers are the “Weekend Warriors” and the “Fitness Fanatics”. Weekend Warriors tend to spend all week sitting and sleeping and then suddenly throw in hours of exercise and activity on the weekend. Fitness fanatics, on the other hand, may get caught up in the trend of heavier weights, more reps, and more sets; or training longer and faster without regard for healthy movement patterns or quality of movement. In both cases, tissues in the body become strained and overloaded and the individuals are at risk of injury.
Finally, postural problems can result in faulty fundamental movement and motor control patterns which are involved in standing upright, walking, squatting and even breathing!
In order to properly treat conditions arising in each of these groups, a Functional Assessment is needed to identify:
- Movements or tissues which are painful.
- Faulty movement patterns where there is painless dysfunction.
- Whether there is a gap between activity demands and functional ability.
It should be noted that the functional assessment does not replace a thorough history and physical exam (including nerve and muscle testing) but rather acts as an invaluable addition to the standard neuromuscular manual testing.
It is a given that any damaged tissue will be treated locally at the site of injury or damage in order to facilitate tissue healing. This is not, however, the most important part of treatment. The key goal is to figure out and correct the reason that the tissue became injured in the first place?
Queue the Functional Assessment.
Faulty movement patterns are often painless, however, they place abnormal stress and tension on tissues, and with constant repetition can lead to tissue overload and injury. It is thus a vital component of the assessment to recognize faulty patterns when developing a corrective strategy.
Assessing functional ability and comparing it to the demand you are placing on your body during various activities can also help expose a gap in ability and demand. This gap further increases your risk of injury and will most likely actually have a negative impact on your potential performance ability as well! Thus the functional assessment aims to distinguish the pain from its source, and to treat both the victim and the culprit!
Of course, every individual uses their body differently, has different goals, presents with a unique pain condition, and has a totally personal history of injury and health. This means that assessment and therapy must be individualized, and each person needs to receive treatment and rehabilitation that suits their unique presentation.
The Functional Assessment is the missing link in the traditional approach of manual therapy which focuses on identifying the site of symptoms. It takes a step further to truly identify and correct the cause of tissue injury, providing improved function, long lasting relief from symptoms, and helping prevent future episodes of tissue damage.
Since healthy movement is the ultimate goal in musculoskeletal health, a Functional Assessment and matched treatment provide a perfect solution!
Whether you are an under-mover, a weekend warrior, or have simply developed poor posture and motor control patterns, the functional assessment and matched treatment approach may be just what you need to get you pain-free and moving right!
Let’s get functional!
Move Well. Live Well.