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Functional Movement Therapy: Who Needs It and Why?

Written by Chris Corrales

December 25, 2023

Functional movement therapy is a game-changer. Unlike traditional therapies, which often focus on isolated muscles or joints, functional movement therapy takes a holistic approach, addressing movement dysfunctions and improving quality of life. Whether you’re an athlete recovering from an injury or someone looking to improve daily activities, this therapy can benefit individuals of all ages and fitness levels. By incorporating various techniques like Feldenkrais and specific functional movements, functional movement therapy helps you regain control over your body’s natural movements. Say goodbye to limitations and hello to a more active, fulfilling life.

Understanding Functional Movement Therapy and Its Origins

Originating from Physical Therapy and Sports Medicine

Functional movement therapy has its roots in the fields of physical therapy and sports medicine. It draws upon the principles of biomechanics and human movement science to address various musculoskeletal issues. This therapeutic approach focuses on restoring optimal movement patterns and preventing future injuries.

Principles of Biomechanics and Human Movement Science

Functional movement therapy is grounded in the principles of biomechanics, which is the study of how forces affect the body’s structure and function. By understanding how different movements impact our bodies, therapists can design interventions that promote proper alignment, stability, and mobility.

Human movement science further enhances this approach by examining how our bodies move in different activities. It considers factors such as muscle strength, joint flexibility, coordination, and balance to identify any limitations or dysfunctions that may contribute to pain or injury.

Restoring Optimal Movement Patterns

The primary goal of functional movement therapy is to restore optimal movement patterns. Therapists work closely with individuals to assess their specific needs and develop personalized treatment plans. These plans typically involve a combination of exercises, stretches, manual techniques, and functional activities aimed at improving overall movement quality.

By addressing underlying imbalances or weaknesses in the body’s kinetic chain – a series of interconnected joints – functional movement therapy helps individuals regain control over their movements. This not only alleviates pain but also enhances performance in daily activities or athletic pursuits.

Preventing Future Injuries

In addition to rehabilitation, functional movement therapy plays a crucial role in injury prevention. By identifying faulty movement patterns or compensatory strategies that increase the risk of injury, therapists can implement corrective strategies tailored to an individual’s needs.

Through targeted exercises that improve strength, flexibility, coordination, and proprioception (awareness of one’s body position), individuals can reduce their susceptibility to future injuries.

Who Benefits from Functional Movement Therapy

Athletes: Enhancing Performance

Athletes are constantly striving to improve their performance and gain a competitive edge. This is where functional movement therapy can play a crucial role. By focusing on specific movements and exercises that mimic the demands of their sport, athletes can enhance their overall performance. Functional movement therapy helps athletes develop better coordination, balance, agility, and power, which are essential for excelling in their chosen field.

Injury Recovery: Regaining Mobility

Injuries or surgeries can significantly impact an individual’s mobility and function. Functional movement therapy is particularly beneficial for those recovering from such setbacks. By targeting the underlying movement patterns that may have contributed to the injury or surgery, this therapy helps individuals regain strength, flexibility, and range of motion. Through guided exercises and corrective techniques, functional movement therapy aids in restoring normal movement patterns while reducing pain and preventing future injuries.

Chronic Pain Management: Improving Function

Living with chronic pain or movement limitations can be debilitating and affect one’s quality of life. Functional movement therapy offers relief by addressing the root causes of pain or restrictions. By identifying any imbalances or dysfunctions within the body’s kinetic chain, therapists can design personalized exercise programs to correct these issues. This approach not only alleviates pain but also improves overall function and mobility.

Functional movement therapy benefits a wide range of individuals – from professional athletes aiming to optimize their performance to those recovering from injuries or living with chronic pain. This therapeutic approach focuses on improving fundamental movements to enhance performance, regain mobility after injuries/surgeries, and manage chronic pain effectively.

Enhancing Functional Movement through Physical Therapy

Various Techniques for Improvement

Physical therapists utilize a range of techniques to enhance functional movement in individuals. These techniques include exercises, stretches, and manual therapies. By incorporating these methods into their practice, physical therapists can address specific impairments and promote overall functional improvement.

Personalized Treatment Plans

To effectively improve functional movement, physical therapists assess individual movement patterns. This assessment allows them to identify areas of weakness or dysfunction that may be impacting an individual’s ability to move properly. Based on this assessment, physical therapists design personalized treatment plans tailored to the unique needs of each patient.

Addressing Specific Impairments

During physical therapy sessions, the focus is on addressing specific impairments that are affecting an individual’s functional movement. Whether it’s poor movement control, muscle imbalances, or restricted range of motion, physical therapists target these issues through targeted exercises and interventions. By addressing these specific impairments, individuals can experience improved mobility and function in their daily lives.

Promoting Overall Functional Improvement

In addition to targeting specific impairments, physical therapy programs also aim to promote overall functional improvement. Through a combination of exercises, body practices like Pilates or yoga, and stress reduction techniques, individuals can develop better motor control and coordination. These improvements translate into enhanced performance during activities such as sports or everyday tasks.

Supporting Pain Relief

Physical therapy is also beneficial for individuals experiencing pain related to poor movement patterns or musculoskeletal conditions. By addressing underlying causes of pain through targeted exercises and manual therapies, physical therapists can help alleviate discomfort and improve overall quality of life.

Differentiating Between Functional Movement and Traditional Therapies

Focusing on the Root Cause

Traditional therapies often aim to manage symptoms, providing temporary relief without addressing the underlying issue. In contrast, functional movement therapy takes a different approach by targeting the root cause of the problem. Instead of merely alleviating pain or discomfort, this therapy aims to identify and address the factors contributing to the dysfunction.

A Holistic Approach

While traditional therapies may focus on treating isolated body parts, functional movement therapy adopts a holistic perspective. It recognizes that our bodies are interconnected systems, where one area of dysfunction can affect other areas as well. By considering how different parts of the body work together, functional movement therapy aims to improve overall function and mobility.

Emphasizing Whole-Body Movements

Functional movement therapy places great emphasis on whole-body movements rather than isolated exercises. This approach acknowledges that our bodies are designed to move as a unit, with various muscles and joints working in coordination. By incorporating exercises that involve multiple muscle groups and joints simultaneously, functional movement therapy helps restore proper movement patterns and enhances overall functionality.

Addressing Functional Movement Deficits with Specialized Methods

Corrective Exercises, Neuromuscular Retraining, and Movement Analysis

Functional movement therapy utilizes specialized methods to address movement deficits and improve overall function. These methods include corrective exercises, neuromuscular retraining, and movement analysis.

Corrective exercises are designed to identify and correct movement dysfunctions and imbalances. By targeting specific muscle groups or movement patterns, these exercises help restore proper alignment and coordination. For example, if someone has poor posture due to weak core muscles, they may be prescribed exercises that focus on strengthening the core and improving spinal alignment.

Neuromuscular retraining is another technique used in functional movement therapy. It involves training the brain and muscles to work together more efficiently. This can be particularly beneficial for individuals who have experienced injuries or neurological conditions that have affected their motor control. Through targeted exercises and repetitive practice, neuromuscular retraining helps improve coordination, stability, and proprioception.

Movement analysis plays a crucial role in functional movement therapy as well. By carefully observing an individual’s movements during various activities or sports-specific tasks, therapists can identify any faulty movement patterns or compensations. This information is then used to develop personalized treatment plans that address these specific issues.

Optimizing Movement Efficiency and Reducing Injury Risk

The ultimate goal of functional movement therapy is to optimize movement efficiency while reducing the risk of future injuries. By addressing underlying movement deficits through specialized methods such as corrective exercises, neuromuscular retraining, and movement analysis, individuals can improve their overall function and performance.

For example, an athlete who frequently experiences ankle sprains may benefit from functional movement therapy by identifying any weaknesses or imbalances in their lower extremities through a thorough assessment of their movements during running or jumping activities.

Conditions Treated by Functional Movement Therapy

Various Conditions Benefit from Functional Movement Therapy

Functional movement therapy is a versatile treatment approach that can be beneficial for a wide range of conditions. Whether you’re suffering from musculoskeletal injuries, chronic pain, or neurological disorders, functional movement therapy may offer relief and improved function.

Rehabilitation of Sports-Related Injuries and Post-Surgical Recovery

One common application of functional movement therapy is in the rehabilitation of sports-related injuries. Athletes who have experienced sprains, strains, or other musculoskeletal injuries can benefit from this specialized form of therapy. By targeting specific movements and addressing any imbalances or weaknesses, functional movement therapy helps athletes regain their strength and mobility.

Post-surgical recovery is another area where functional movement therapy shines. Following surgical procedures such as joint replacements or ligament repairs, patients often need to rebuild their strength and restore normal movement patterns. Functional movement therapy provides targeted exercises and manual techniques to facilitate healing and optimize recovery.

Movement Disorders: Parkinson’s Disease and Stroke Survivors

Functional movement therapy also plays a crucial role in helping individuals with movement disorders improve their quality of life. For those with Parkinson’s disease, which affects coordination and balance, functional movement therapy can help manage symptoms and enhance overall mobility.

Stroke survivors often experience impaired motor function on one side of their body. Functional movement therapy focuses on retraining movements to improve coordination and regain independence. Through customized exercises and techniques tailored to each individual’s needs, stroke survivors can make significant strides in their recovery journey.

Incorporating functional movement therapy into treatment plans for these conditions empowers individuals to regain control over their bodies while reducing pain, improving function, and enhancing overall well-being.

Ensuring Safety and Effectiveness in Movement Therapy

Qualified Guidance for Functional Movement Therapy

Functional movement therapy is a specialized form of therapy that should always be performed under the guidance of a qualified healthcare professional. These professionals, such as physical therapists or occupational therapists, have the knowledge and expertise to assess an individual’s specific needs and develop appropriate treatment plans. By working with a therapist, individuals can receive personalized care that addresses their unique goals.

Individualized Treatment Plans

One of the key aspects of functional movement therapy is the development of individualized treatment plans. Each person has different needs and goals. By tailoring the therapy sessions to address these specific requirements, individuals can experience more effective outcomes.

Regular Assessment and Progress Tracking

To ensure the safety and effectiveness of functional movement therapy, regular assessment and progress tracking are essential. Healthcare professionals will regularly evaluate an individual’s progress to determine if any adjustments need to be made to their treatment plan. This systematic approach allows therapists to identify areas for improvement or potential risks, ensuring that the therapy remains safe and beneficial.

By closely monitoring an individual’s progress through assessments, therapists can also provide motivation and encouragement along the way. Seeing tangible improvements can boost confidence and keep individuals motivated throughout their therapy journey.


So, there you have it – a comprehensive exploration of functional movement therapy and its numerous benefits. We’ve delved into the origins of this approach, discussed who can benefit from it, and highlighted the conditions that can be effectively treated through functional movement therapy. By enhancing functional movement through physical therapy and addressing deficits with specialized methods, individuals can experience improved mobility, reduced pain, and enhanced overall quality of life.

Now that you have a better understanding of functional movement therapy, it’s time to take action. If you or someone you know is struggling with movement limitations or chronic pain, consider exploring the potential benefits of functional movement therapy. Consult with a qualified professional who can assess your specific needs and develop a tailored treatment plan. By investing in your body’s ability to move freely and function optimally, you can unlock a world of possibilities for a healthier, more active lifestyle.


Embracing Functional Movement Therapy for Injury Recovery: Your Journey to Enhanced Mobility with MedicinEvolution!

Are you facing challenges in your athletic endeavors due to a sports injury, battling discomfort, and restricted movement? Look no further than MedicinEvolution for a solution. Here, the principles of Functional Movement Therapy are meticulously employed to address your sports-related injuries, paving the way for a more effective and holistic recovery. Say farewell to the limitations brought on by muscle imbalances, overuse, and repetitive sports actions—as MedicinEvolution delves deep into the underlying causes of your injury, fostering a profound healing journey. Their adept techniques promise a significant shift away from the pain and mobility issues that have been impacting your sports performance.

If you’re dealing with ongoing discomfort, stiffness, or the exasperating constraints of a sports injury, their tailored Functional Movement Therapy is crafted to cater to the unique demands of your situation. Don’t allow setbacks from injuries to dictate your sports narrative—seize control and book your appointment with MedicinEvolution now! Step into the world of Functional Movement Therapy and commence a journey toward a more dynamic, pain-free lifestyle. Your body, along with your sporting goals, will thank you!

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