“Functional Training” Can Go Awfully Wrong

With every trainer, person at the gym, and anyone else who has lifted a weight in their life, they have probably heard the term functional training.  Although the term has a broad definition and albeit a mixed one there are some things are simply flat-out wrong.  Do not necessarily assume that because someone is balancing on a foam roller with a golf club is “functional” for their sport.  There is nothing out there that shows this is correct.  Most of the people who deem things functional in their training will typically go right to unstable surface training, use a bat or club attached to a weighted pulley systems, even attach all kinds of cables to limbs of people to perform movements.

Hooked up like this to a cable system near you, He's ALIVE!

When we talk about athletic performance and we look at the diverse movements that these sports require we can appreciate they typically involve more quad dominant movements (and horrible biomechanics).  Check out some of these photos









As you can see, in both basketball pictures you notice what is a bad squat pattern (very knee dominant).  The football pictures,  valgus collapse at the knees, bad cervical neck positioning.  Quad dominance can be associated with poor hip mobility, poor core stability which is a prerequisite to hip stability of the glutes.  It can also be attributed to poor lifestyle choices like sitting for numerous hours.  All these movements are required to perform on the field or court to be successful but they are not conducive to preventing injuries or allow them to undue the stresses that occur on the field.  Besides horrendous footwear, do we see how basketball players are notorious for knee pain?  This is why we must train a bit smarter and not think entirely of sport specific movements but simply good movement. Typical example I would hear is some saying a jump shot is a quarter squat so we must do them for them to improve performance.  Sometimes the pendulum swings too far and we go to one extreme because we think it is the answer but especially in this case.

Strength coaches jobs are to prevent injury in the weightroom and on the field, then improve performance.  You cannot be a beast on the field if you do not have a good motor or if the engine does not have all the pieces functioning at the right level.  You also cannot ramp up the engine if the pieces are not put in place, it will fall apart sooner or later.

The positions on the field and court are not ones that would be good biomechanics of the human body by any standard.  However, good movement is good movement and needs to be addressed specifically off the field.





Categories: Injury Prevention, Strength Training


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