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What Is Functional Exercise and Why Is It Important?

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Functional exercises train your muscles to work together and prepare them for daily tasks by mimicking your daily common movements you might do at home, at work or in sports. Functional fitness is vital to improve core strength, balance, and cardiovascular health, as well as to promote relaxation. It teaches your body how to apply the strength gains into better postural movements. Targeted exercises are designed to deliver the maximum benefit for each patient. For elderly, it reduces the potential for falls and encourage older adults to remain active. 

Muscles have memory. You need to train your muscles in a functional way so that the muscles remember when to activate and fire during a movement. The timing of muscles activation is essential to avoid compensatory movements, straining of other soft tissues and minimizing the wear and tear of your joints (joint centration).

A person will naturally know how and when to activate the correct muscles throughout the motor development stages as an infant. However, modern community practices which involve a lot of stationary movement (sitting/ looking at hp or PC), forward movement (driving, typing, carry a weight), and lack of mobility drive our body into a “lazy” position (poor posture & muscles imbalances). Population nowadays who do only one or two type of sports can cause muscles imbalances too because each type of sports has their own movement pattern. For an example, if you practice golf, your body is used to one side twisting only. When you do the movement pattern repetitively, only certain group of your muscles are maintained active.

As shown in the picture, human body work like a kinetic chain. Any broken chain can cause other chain to go haywire too.

Therefore, muscles re-education through functional exercises are important to restore a neutral posture, optimize the joints centration and prevent or eliminate pain.