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Maximise Performance and Minimise Injuries: The Power of Functional Training for Injury Prevention

Updated: Nov 17, 2023

Table of Contents:


Introduction

The importance of injury prevention at Movement method cannot be overstated. Each year, countless individuals suffer injuries that could have been avoided with suitable preventive measures. A critical aspect of injury prevention rests on understanding and applying functional training. This blog post offers a comprehensive look at functional training for injury prevention, providing invaluable insights for anyone seeking to minimise injury risk while boosting performance.


Definition and Importance of Functional Training

Functional patterns training movement method

Functional training, concerning movement and biomechanics, refer to the fundamental movements conducted by our bodies. These movements include bending, twisting, squatting, lunging, and more. Functional Training is critical in optimising performance and reducing the risk of injuries. By understanding and improving our functional movements, Movement method can help strengthen the body's weak points that are susceptible to harm.


Recent research underscores the importance of functional training in predicting injury risk. A study exploring risk and injury prediction based on movement patterns and flexibility yielded insightful results. It indicated that low-quality movement patterns—scoring 14 or less on the Functional Movement Screen (FMS)—heightened injury risk sevenfold. The study further revealed that a decrease in flexibility by a mere centimeter could elevate the risk of sustaining an injury by 6% ("Prediction and Injury Risk Based on Movement Patterns and Flexibility in a 6-Month Prospective Study Among Physically Active Adults"). Notably, the accuracy of predicting injury risk stood at a significant 73% when using movement patterns and dipped to 41% when incorporating flexibility. The results emphasise the imperative role of functional training in predicting injury risk, especially among physically active individuals.


The significance of these findings is two-fold. First, they underscore the profound impact that movement patterns have on injury risk. A poor movement pattern is not just an inefficient way of moving - it can be a ticking injury time bomb. On the other hand, quality functional training can act as a safeguard, reducing the likelihood of injuries.


Secondly, these results highlight that improving our functional training - and not just our strength or endurance - can play a crucial role in injury prevention. By focusing our physical efforts on refining these functional training methods, we can improve not only our physical fitness but well-being as well. In the following sections, we will delve into a critical tool used in assessing functional training—the Functional Movement Screen (FMS)—and explore some common functional training methods crucial for injury prevention.


Functional Movement Screen (FMS) for Injury Risk Prediction

The Functional Movement Screen (FMS) is a widely used tool for assessing movement patterns and identifying potential injury risk factors. It consists of seven fundamental movement patterns that evaluate an individual's mobility, stability, and overall movement quality. By conducting the FMS, trained professionals can gain valuable insights into an individual's functional training and identify areas that may require improvement to mitigate injury risk.


The FMS assigns a score to each movement pattern, ranging from 0 to 3, with 3 indicating optimal movement quality and 0 indicating pain or inability to perform the movement. The scores for each movement pattern are then totaled to provide an overall assessment of an individual's movement quality. This assessment serves as a valuable foundation for designing personalised corrective exercise programs aimed at improving functional training methods and reducing injury risk.


The study mentioned earlier, "Prediction and Injury Risk Based on Movement Patterns and Flexibility in a 6-Month Prospective Study Among Physically Active Adults," utilised the FMS to assess movement patterns and their relationship to injury risk. The results demonstrated a strong association between low-quality movement patterns, as identified by a score of 14 or less on the FMS, and a sevenfold increase in injury risk.

Furthermore, the study examined the significance of flexibility in injury prediction. It revealed that a decrease in flexibility of just one centimetre increased the risk of injury by 6%. While flexibility plays a vital role in optimising movement quality, the study found that its incorporation into injury prediction models did not significantly improve the accuracy of injury risk assessment.


These findings highlight the relevance of the FMS in predicting injury risk based on functional training. By evaluating an individual's movement quality, healthcare professionals, coaches, and trainers can assess the risk of potential injuries and make informed decisions regarding injury prevention strategies and exercise programs. The FMS serves as a valuable tool to guide individuals in identifying and addressing weak areas in their functional training, consequently enhancing performance and reducing the likelihood of injury occurrence.


It is important to note that the FMS is not solely applicable to athletes or individuals participating in high-intensity sports. The study focused on physically active young adults in a general population context, emphasising the significance of functional training methods in injury prediction and prevention for the average individual engaged in physical activity.


In the following section, we will delve deeper into specific functional training methods and their contributions to injury prevention. Understanding these patterns will empower individuals to tailor their training to target weak points, foster movement quality, and develop a resilient foundation for physical well-being.


Functional Training for Injury Prevention

Functional Training encompass a range of movements that are crucial for maintaining optimal physical function and reducing the risk of injuries. By mastering these fundamental movements, individuals can enhance their body's resilience, promote efficient mechanics, and prevent imbalances that could lead to injuries.


Squat Pattern

The squat pattern is a fundamental movement that involves bending the knees and hips while maintaining proper alignment throughout the body. This movement engages the lower body muscles, including the quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes, and core stabilisers. Squatting is not only an essential movement for daily activities but also a cornerstone for various athletic movements, such as jumping, lifting, and running.

Benefits of the Squat Pattern for Injury Prevention:

  • Enhances lower body strength and power.

  • Improves hip and ankle mobility.

  • Develops core stability and postural control.

  • Reinforces proper knee alignment and prevents valgus stress.

  • Reduces the risk of lower extremity injuries, such as ACL tears and patellofemoral pain syndrome.

Variations and Progressions:

  • Basic Bodyweight Squat: This serves as the foundation for mastering proper squat mechanics, ensuring a controlled descent and maintaining an upright torso.

  • Goblet Squat: Holding a dumbbell or kettlebell against the chest, this variation further challenges core stability and promotes balanced movement.

  • Barbell Back Squat: Once proficient in bodyweight and goblet squats, progressing to a barbell squat allows for heavier loads and continued strength development.

Hip Hinge Pattern

The hip hinge pattern involves bending at the hips while maintaining a neutral spine position, similar to the motion of bending forward to touch your toes. This movement primarily engages the glutes, hamstrings, and lower back muscles. Developing a strong and efficient hip hinge pattern is critical for tasks such as lifting objects, proper running form, and minimising stress on the lower back.

Benefits of the Hip Hinge Pattern for Injury Prevention:

  • Strengthens the posterior chain (glutes, hamstrings, and lower back).

  • Improves hip mobility and stability.

  • Teaches proper body mechanics for lifting objects, reducing the risk of lower back injuries.

  • Enhances hip extension power for activities such as running, jumping, and sprinting.

Variations and Progressions:

  • Romanian Deadlift (RDL): With a slight knee bend, the RDL focuses on hip flexibility and strengthens the hamstrings and glutes.

  • Kettlebell Swing: Incorporating a hip hinge motion, the kettlebell swing trains explosive power and posterior chain strength.

  • Barbell Deadlift: Once a solid hip hinge pattern is established, progressing to a barbell deadlift allows for further strength development and functional carryover to daily activities and sports.

Lunge Pattern

The lunge pattern involves stepping forward or backward, maintaining an upright torso while bending the front and back knees. This movement engages the quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes, and core stabilisers. Lunging is a multi-planar movement that targets single-leg strength and stability, making it valuable for injury prevention in both sports and daily life.

Benefits of the Lunge Pattern for Injury Prevention:

  • Develops single-leg strength and stability.

  • Improves hip mobility and coordination.

  • Corrects muscle imbalances between the left and right legs.

  • Enhances stability and control during dynamic movements, such as cutting and changing directions.

Variations and Progressions:

  • Reverse Lunge: Stepping backward emphasises the glutes and hamstrings, while challenging balance and stability.

  • Walking Lunge: Stepping forward and alternating legs simulates gait patterns and targets a wider range of muscle groups.

  • Bulgarian Split Squat: Elevating one foot behind on a bench or platform intensifies the lunge, requiring greater stability and strength.

By incorporating these functional training into exercise routines and daily activities, individuals can improve movement quality, reduce injury risk, and enhance overall physical performance. Customising exercises and progressions based on current fitness levels and individual needs is key to reaping the full benefits of these functional training methods.


In the following section, we will explore the role of functional correction training in reducing athletes' injury risk, drawing insights from a systematic review and meta-analysis.


The Role of Functional Correction Training in Reducing Athletes' Injury Risk

To further understand the impact of functional correction training on injury risk, Movement Method turn to a systematic review and meta-analysis titled "Effects of Functional Correction Training on Injury Risk of Athletes: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis."(1) This study examined non-randomised clinical trials to assess the effects of functional correction training, specifically using the Functional Movement Screen (FMS™) tool, on athletes' risk of injury.


Background

Sports injuries among athletes are multifaceted, often influenced by a variety of risk factors. The FMS™ tool aims to evaluate athletes' fundamental movement patterns and identify areas for potential improvement. By screening and testing various functional movements, the FMS™ helps guide corrective exercise programs specifically tailored to normalise or enhance these movement patterns.


Methodology

The researchers meticulously collected and analysed 24 relevant articles published between January 1997 and September 2020. Inclusion criteria involved non-randomised controlled trials that utilised functional correction training based on the FMS™ as the independent variable. The dependent variable of interest was the assessment of injury risk among athletes. Collected data included sample size, mean, standard deviation, total FMS™ scores, the number of injuries, and asymmetry in movement patterns.


Results

The meta-analysis comprised 12 non-randomised trials, which allowed researchers to determine the effects of functional correction training on athletes' injury risk. The analysis revealed a notable reduction in injury risk, with a risk ratio of 0.39 (95% CI [1.50–1.93]). These findings strongly suggest that functional correction training based on the FMS™ positively influences athletes' functional training methods and lowers the risk of sports-related injuries.


Conclusion

Injury prevention is a crucial aspect of maintaining a healthy and active lifestyle. Understanding and incorporating functional training into training regimens and daily activities can significantly reduce the risk of injuries and enhance overall physical performance. Through comprehensive assessments such as the Functional Movement Screen (FMS™), Movement Method can identify movement dysfunctions, imbalances, and areas of improvement.


The study on prediction and injury risk based on movement patterns and flexibility revealed crucial insights into the impact of functional training on injury prevention. It emphasised that low-quality movement patterns increase the risk of injuries significantly, while a decrease in flexibility also contributes to heightened injury risk. These findings underline the importance of addressing functional training to safeguard against injuries.


The FMS™ serves as a valuable tool in predicting injury risk and guiding the implementation of personalised corrective exercise programs. By working to improve movement quality, strength, and stability through exercises focused on functional training, individuals can minimise their vulnerability to injuries and optimise their physical performance.


Additionally, the systematic review and meta-analysis on functional correction training using the FMS™ highlighted its effectiveness in reducing athletes' injury risk. By incorporating targeted corrective exercises to address movement dysfunctions, athletes can enhance their functional training methods and decrease the likelihood of sports-related injuries. This evidence reinforces the importance of integrating functional correction training into athletes' training regimens.


It is important to remember that functional training and injury prevention are not exclusive to athletes or high-performance individuals. The principles and benefits of functional training apply to people of all fitness levels, ages, and physical activities. By prioritising functional training in training or daily life, individuals can improve movement quality, enhance physical performance, and reduce the risk of injuries.

In conclusion, developing and maintaining high-quality functional training is key to injury prevention and optimal physical function. It is essential to approach training holistically, addressing movement limitations and imbalances to establish a solid foundation for a resilient and injury-free body.


Ready to take your injury prevention to the next level? Discover the transformative power of functional training with Movement Method. Unlock your body's full potential and reduce the risk of injuries by incorporating evidence-based functional correction training into your fitness routine. Click here to start prioritising your long-term health and fitness goals today with Movement Method.

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