What is Functional Movement?

What is Functional Movement?

The goal of any program whether in water or on land should be to improve activities of daily living ( ADL’s) and life on land.

Research suggests that sixth decade is the point in time when losses of muscular strength, size and function are most dramatic (Pollock et al.)

Did you know that with retirees – there is a span of approximately 35 years ? ( 55 – 90 years old)

This makes for a very challenging program for instructors designing safe and effective programs for that many levels and skills.

Most people 55-75 years old can do what they normally have done in the past. With the 75-85 year old group mobility differences start to occur which cause limitations for living an independent lifestyle. After age 85 years of age most people have some concerning health issue and limitations.

Functional movement can stretch and strengthen the muscles which serves the purpose to use the body in the most efficient manner to accomplish a specific objective and stay independent and mobile.

What are Some Activities of Daily Living or ADL’s?

  • Walking, Crossing the street
  • Stair Climbing, in and out of a car
  • In and out of a Shower/Bath
  • Carrying Groceries, Lifting laundry
  • Washing, Brushing hair, dressing,
  • Dressing
  • Cooking, Cleaning vacuuming, dusting, moving things
  • Raking leaves, shoveling snow?
  • Getting on and off bus or in and out of car
  • Crossing the street, walking to the mail box

All of the above activities helps the body to maintain independence and function.

Note: There is no magic pill for function. Essentially, if you don’t use the muscle strength, mobility and flexibility = the body will lose muscle strength, mobility and flexibility!

To perform functional movement successfully there is a need to re-train posture and balance. This helps to distribute weight more evenly over the skeletal system to place the minimum amount of stress on the supporting joints. Add exercises throughout a program for training better posture which will require both balance and core strength.

There are two types of balance – static or dynamic. Static balance requires holding on the spot and may be as simple as putting some body checks or yoga poses throughout a program. Be sure to add some thermal sets before and after balance training especially if you are working in a cooler pool. Dynamic balance utilizes more movement and travel and then surprises the body with a balance or body check exercise. All of the basic movements may be easily performed and then stop or balance the body in a position. Teach the progressive levels to body-check for balance and stability. Always demonstrate and teach how the arms must be utilized to assist balance and support in the water.The number one reason consideration for training for function is to help clients with mobility.

Here are some tips to help clients train in a functional manner with water exercise.

  • Keep people active throughout a program
  • Train the muscle groups that provide movement for all activities
  • Imitate Daily activities in the water
  • Incorporate changes of direction and agility moves
  • Retrain the fast twitch muscle fibers
  • Maintain or improve present levels of fitness for those already active

Before you Start a Program

Be aware of Health Conditions. Many people in the class might have health conditions such arthritis and a partial or total hip or knee replacement, lower back problems, diabetes, multiple sclerosis, heart problems or just general depression with growing older and maybe living alone. Encourage everyone to do as much or as little as they wish at their own pace. Advise stopping if pain exasperates or increases. Note: that pain and discomfort is subjective so check in and make sure that everyone is working at their preferred level of intensity. Always work through good range of motion to target the muscle through its full length. A long muscle is a stronger muscle.

Dress appropriately as not to get chilled in the water. If the pool water is cool suggest dressing for success i.e. wearing a thermal vest, polyester shirt or tights, or a cap or hat. Advise participants to wear shoes to prevent slipping and improve stability. Suggest aquatic mitts to enlarge the area of support and help with balance.

Train Participants with the necessary Water Specific Skills

  • How to enter and exit the pool safely
  • Recovery to standing position
  • Sculling for balance and movement
  • Walking with correct foot action forward
  • Discovering the buoyancy and resistance of water
  • Using water for assistance and resistance
  • Finding correct water depth

Demonstrate the WaterART working positions to modify or increase the intensity for the same basic moves.

Give Permission to go at own skill, speed and comfort levels

One final note. All clients should partake in a screening process of some sort. Either verbal or written. Asking clients to disclose any medical issue and telling them to work within their own comfort limits is key to safe programming. In a group exercise program establish who might have pain, poor range of motion, muscle strength, level of skills and/or discomfort. Be aware that some clients such as those with Fibromyalgia will have their good and bad days. Always remind your class not to overdo their workout when they are having a good day as they may pay for it later in the day. Remind people especially diabetics know that they should have had something to eat before coming to class. Always identify non-swimmers and set boundaries for their comfort and safety.