I just got finished with my newest educational pursuit, the Selective Functional Movement Assessment (SFMA). Here is an overview of the assessment and why it can help you:

The #1 risk factor for injury is a previous injury.

Who hasn’t had an injury in their life?!  So basically, we are all at greater risk, to different degrees.  When the body experiences an injury, the natural response is to protect the injured area.  This may be through increased or decreased muscle activation, but the end result is a change in movement patterns.  Even minute changes in these patterns contribute to more chronic dysfunction when left uncorrected. Despite rehabilitation efforts, it is not uncommon for poor motor control to remain long after an injury seems healed.

Myth: No Pain, No Gain

We’ve all heard the saying.  It makes me cringe!! Working in a fitness facility, I see people try and ‘push through’ pain all the time.  Gotta stop doing that, folks.

Pain alters motor control in an unpredictable manner.  

Research is showing that when your body experiences pain, you may have a wide variety of responses which include muscle inhibition or overactivation.  Again, your system is doing the best it can to try and protect you from harm as your brain is being sent pain signals.  Ignoring these signals is like working out in a facility where the fire alarms are going off!  Working on your fitness in a burning building really won’t benefit your health, and neither will ‘pushing through’ pain.

Our brain works with patterns.   New movement patterns require lots of brain-power.  Think about learning to dance or do yoga, and how awkward the whole experience can be. You have to really concentrate.  However, when the class is over, most people are able to put their shoes on and walk out to the car with ease.  That is because the brain has practiced those tasks over and over, imprinting those patterns so that they are now subconscious, habitual movements.

Pain alters our healthy, habitual movement patterns, and at the onset of a problem, that alteration is usually noticeable.  You are aware that you’re not using your left arm, or that you are slightly limping when walking downhill, etc.  If instead of fixing the issue, we simply ignore pain and go about daily life, we are re-wiring poor movement patterns into our brain!  Those dysfunctional patterns (disuse, overuse, imbalances, poor posture) will become the body’s new ‘normal’.   Over time, the wear and tear on joints and soft-tissue will lead to the next injury, and the cycle continues.

Fact: Assessing & Treating Dysfunction can Relieve Pain

The SFMA is used to classify movement patterns as functional or dysfunctional, painful or non-painful.   Each problematic area is examined further, until a comprehensive picture of the body as a whole has been obtained.

Find the pain, look elsewhere for the cause

Pain signals are important and should not be ignored.  However, pain is often a symptom of a dysfunction located in a completely different area.   That is why a whole-body assessment is necessary to completely knock out poor patterning and rebuild proper movement.   The Selective Functional Movement Assessment provides a detailed roadmap for a therapist to base manual therapy and exercise intervention upon.  Targeted therapy into true areas of dysfunction often means avoiding pain and speeding recovery.

Fact: We are All Dysfunctional

Something I thought would be interesting to share is how humbling this weekend of training has been for the entire room of health care professionals.  There were likely 80 of us in attendance, and not one of us got a gold star!  Injury and pain and life happens.  The human body adapts the best it can.  It’s not perfect, and the SFMA highlighted that we all have areas we can work on to improve.   I had some results that completely surprised me.

Knowledge is power

Awareness of how the body works and where function is breaking down allows you to do something about it! Remember, it is all about patterns.  Repetition.  Through focused, targeted rehabilitation, it is possible to change your brain, and improve your movement.

If you are curious what the assessment process will entail, check out the video below.  Note: Any of these movements which are painful or dysfunctional are tested with additional exercises to pinpoint more specific problem areas.

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