If you’re like most people, you probably think of functional movement as something that only elite athletes need to worry about. After all, if you’re not a professional athlete, what could you possibly have to gain by improving your functional movement? We're here to discuss the importance of functional movement for every body.
Functional movement isn’t just for athletes; it’s for everyone. In fact, poor functional movement is one of the main reasons why so many people experience pain and injuries throughout their lives. By improving your functional movement, you can reduce or even eliminate these problems altogether.
There are three main types of functional movement that beginners should focus on:
1. Mobility exercises – These exercises help improve your range of motion and flexibility. They can be performed anywhere, anytime, and don’t require any special equipment. Just grab your Movement Mat to support your body and you're ready to go. Some examples of mobility exercises include:
- Neck circles – Gently rotate your neck in a circular motion, clockwise and then counterclockwise.
- Shoulder rolls – Roll your shoulders up, down, and around in a circular motion.
- Hamstring stretch – Sit on the ground with your legs straight out in front of you. Reach for your toes and hold the stretch for 10-30 seconds.
- Hip flexor stretch – Kneel on the ground with one knee bent and the other leg extended behind you. Lean forward until you feel a stretch in the hip of the extended leg. Hold for 10-30 seconds.
2. Strength exercises – These exercises help improve your muscle strength and endurance. They can also be performed anywhere, anytime, but you will need some basic equipment like weights or a resistance band. Some examples of strength exercises:
- Squats – Standing with your feet shoulder-width apart, squat down until your thighs are parallel to the ground. Hold for 10-30 seconds, then stand back up.
- Lunges – Standing with your feet shoulder-width apart, step one foot forward and squat down until that thigh is parallel to the ground. Hold for 10-30 seconds, then switch legs and repeat.
- Chest press – Lie on your back on the floor with a weight in each hand. Extend your arms straight up towards the ceiling, then lower them back down to the starting position.
- Bicep curl – Have one weight in each hand and let them hang at your sides with your palms facing forward. Bend your elbows and curl the weights up towards your shoulders.
3. Balance exercises – These exercises help improve your balance and coordination. They can be performed anywhere, but a stability ball or a balance beam may be helpful to increase the challenge. Some examples of balance exercises:
- Single-leg stand – Stand on one leg and hold for 10-30 seconds. Repeat with the other leg.
- Seated balance – Sit on the ground with your legs straight out in front of you. Hold for 10-30 seconds.
- Standing balance – Stand with your feet together and your eyes closed. Hold for 10-30 seconds.
Each of these types of functional movement has its own benefits, and by incorporating all three into your routine, you’ll be well on your way to improved health and fitness.