The terms ‘functional movement’ and ‘functional training’ have been circulating in the fitness industry for quite a few years now. Many will have seen an F45 pop up in their suburb, or functional classes added to their local gyms.
If you’re unfamiliar with the hype, functional movement is training based on real-world situational biomechanics (ie. what your body does on a day-to-day basis).
These movements are usually what we can ‘multi-planar’ (which relates to the way you move your spine), and multi-joint movements – all of which focus on your core muscles for stability. This is why Pilates is the perfect form of functional training.
One of the mains goals of functional training is to help people perform daily activities without stress or pain.
Pilates is brilliant because it teaches exercise as movements, not bits of movement. Take the traditional roll-up as an example: it looks like a simple spinal flexion, but with proper technique, it’s much more. Firstly, it conditions the rectus abdominis and obliques to create spinal flexion, as well as lengthening the spinal extensors. But more than that, it actually lengthens shortened hamstrings, activates and strengthens the rotators of the femurs, and challenges scapular stability.
All these movements make everyday life easier – from vacuuming the floors to whisking eggs to sitting comfortably in bed to read a book. Simple squatting or planking can’t achieve anything like this bodily change.
Pilates is about challenging the body through an array of movements, which is why, unlike weights, we don’t do repeated sets. As you improve, you’ll learn new exercises, which helps to gain a wider spectrum of possible movements, which in turn makes everyday tasks easier. You might notice your back hurt less after sitting for a couple of hours, or that it takes less effort to reach to the top of your pantry. Repeating multiple sets of the same exercise does the opposite.
At the end of the day, most of us just need to sit at our desks with good posture. We might need to lift, carry and ‘press’ 5kg of groceries, library books or babies, but not much more than that. We need to be able to cuddle up on the couch, unpack the dishwasher and hang a new painting.
These activities do not require the production of force generated by deadlifting 70kg! They just require the ability to maintain proper alignment via joint stability. It’s odd that so much ‘functional’ training is focused on lifting and pressing heavy weights when our daily lives don’t actually need that strength.
In Pilates, when we do leg work, for example, the challenge isn’t about overloading the gluteus maximus for hip extension, but in maintaining proper alignment throughout the exercise. That’s because our dynamic stabilising systems need to be conditioned for proper daily alignment and movement – not for bench pressing a year’s supply of dog biscuits!
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Not only is Pilates great for toning your muscles, but it’s the perfect low-impact form of functional training. For a strong body and a sharp mind, book into one of our many classes in Brisbane at The Body Refinery today.
Start today and experience the many benefits. Join us at The Body Refinery by contacting our friendly staff on 07 3358 3915 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.