Pain Relief For Arthritis Happy Valley & Sandy, OR


TheGreatArmy PUTTING THE “FUN” BACK IN “FUNCTION”The Least you need to know:

  • Function is what you do in your day to day, end of story.
  • Using the gym to perform motions that mimic actual activities or components of motions will better prepare you to deal with the things you actually need to do.
  • If you’re not sure, it’s probably better to use your gym time doing some basic motions of life than some arbitrary motions that you only do at the gym.
  • Most gyms, trainers, and coach claim that their set of motions are “functional movements” that will help you achieve your goals (not always so, buyer beware).

Good morning to and from Happy Valley, OR! Let’s just jump into it and talk for a second about function. When we hear “function” or “functional movement,” 90% (this statistic is purely speculative) of athletes think CrossFit. Full disclosure, I like CrossFit. It is fun, it makes you tired and they give you ideas for workouts everyday for free. I personally use a lot of their ideas in training and got my start in Olympic lifting from a CrossFit’er. I do think that there needs to be a long string of caviates behind the word “function” when they use it. In my mind the key to successful CrossFitting is being able to understand what parts of their workouts are right or not right for you and why. We’ll get back to that in a second, but first, gyms and why you need one.

Gyms date back, in most senses of the word, to the Ancient Greeks and were used to train the Olympians. This is where people would practicing athletic feats in the nude (yes, nude) probably because togas and sandals are really hard to run in. The Romans gave us a name for it, with the Latin root of the word to describe these places “gymnasium”, “gymn-” means, “unclothed, bare, unclad, disrobed, undressed; naked, or nude.” You can take this one of two ways, either strip down at your next visit to 24 and insight a small stampede when you decide to do barbell lunges down the middle of the gym, jog down SE Sunnyside Road OR (choose the “or”) start understanding that a gym is a place to strip down an activity to its most bare components and practice them to perfection.

Most reports that I have found about what an ancient gym would have been like vary greatly, but usually included a space to exercise and interestingly enough a library. Gyms have changed a lot, with modern (if not post modern) equipment, towers of supplements, additional services, coaching, counseling, Rex-Kwon-Do pants, and lots of polo shirts. There are several different ways of thinking that have driven the industry, with most of them passing as a fad that will join the ThighMaster and shake weights in a few years. However, it’s not all bad; some ideas are truly helpful for everyday life. More often than not, the lasting trends are more of a nod to an evolving understanding of how we work and how the demands on our bodies have changed.

What should we ask from our gym? That depends on what we expect our body to do. In other words, our expectations should be driven by the function that we want and need. If you spend our entire day resting our elbow on a table, lifting very heavy things, a bicep curl machine might actually be the most functional training for you. However, with the varied demands of life it should be clear that there is no one right way to train function for every person.

Since we are talking about the “F” word, function, it’s worth talking about CrossFit as they have brought this word into the exercise mainstream in a truly powerful way. CrossFit is a style of gym with a strong philosophy, nothing more. By it’s own account, they believe:

“The CrossFit prescription is ‘constantly varied, high intensity, functional movement.’ Functional movements are universal motor recruitment patterns; they are performed in a wave of contraction from core to extremity; and they are compound movements- i.e., they are multi-joint. They are natural, effective, and efficient locomotors of body and external objects. But no aspect of functional movements is more important than their capacity to move large loads over long distances, and to do so quickly.” – Greg Glassman

All in all, not a bad start. The claim that CrossFit is based on “functional movement” presumes a lot about what form you have and need. Olympic lifting, a backbone of CrossFit, is not appropriate for everyone for a number of reasons. I’ll let the other interesting parts of this statement slide for now and we can talk about it later, but the spirit of the movement is good. We should look at how we move, how that affects our bodies and how we can strip those movements down and perfect those activities. And the gym is the place we can do that. In other words, Olympic lifting is a fine template to practice moving well, but just because you do Olympic lifts doesn’t mean that you move well. Oh yeah, and we should have fun doing it which is probably the key to the success of CrossFit, a high energy one mindedness that gets people excited about improving themselves.

We spend our time moving through the world doing a seemingly endless series of activities that range from carrying washing machines up/down stairs to typing blog posts. If you look at this range of activities there are more than a few similarities, and some fundamental things that can be seen in all of them. These activities (sitting and carrying a washer) both demand a strong, stable spine that allows our appendages to move freely around you to accomplish a task. If you spend 99% of your time moving washers you should be very good at lifting heavy things. If you spend 99% of your time writing blog posts, you should be very good at supporting your back in a neutral position while flexing at the hips so that your body doesn’t fall apart with typing. Either way, your gym activity should should prepare you for what you actually do. Flipping a tire may satisfy CrossFit’s assertion that “no aspect of functional movements is more important than their capacity to move large loads over long distances, and to do so quickly” but it doesn’t necessarily do squat for helping you work at a computer or prevent workplace injures UNLESS you do those tire flips with techniques that improves your ability to perform desk work more effectively. Furthermore, their are a long list of exercises that can prepare you for writing blog posts that are safer and easier to transition into with reduced risk of injury. Using gym activities to practice maintaining a neutral spine with flexion of the hip and independent arm movements will help you tolerate hours of computer work. With that in mind, let’s say that no aspect of functional movements is more important than their capacity to PRODUCE MEANINGFUL CARRYOVER INTO YOUR DAILY LIFE. Quote me.

Elephantlifting PUTTING THE “FUN” BACK IN “FUNCTION”In a nut shell, simply being able to flip a tire doesn’t mean you have good technique or fundamentals of movements. Don’t believe me? Check out all of those gym “fail” videos here, or here. However, if you have good fundamental movements you will likely be able to go flip a tire without slowly destroying your body. Still confused? How about, every elephant is an animal but not all animals are an elephant.

Strip down the motions that you would like to be able to do without injury and practice the basics; use those basics to build the complex movements and use those movements to go perform a function. Go to the gym to be the animal that you want to be instead of demanding that you be an elephant.