Functional Exercise


Do you have pain from a sporting injury or a sore neck from working long hours at your desk? Functional exercise may be a suitable treatment for you.

At Relieve Clinic, we offer functional exercise for people from all walks of life. You might be a regular gym goer recovering from an injury, an athlete wanting to improve performance, or an office worker wanting to loosen off tight shoulders.

Functional fitness exercises train your muscles and help you become more efficient in your daily and sporting activities. Our lifestyles may not allow us the movement we need to have our bodies in top shape. This is where functional exercises come in. It’s ‘real world’ fitness that trains the muscles you use every day.

Read below to learn more about whether our functional exercise program is the right way of improving your pain.

Functional exercises are movements that build muscle strength and mobility across the body. They’re typically used to help patients rehabilitate a certain part of their body after an injury. But functional exercise can also be used to manage and prevent pain from all kinds of musculoskeletal conditions.

Like keeping a car well maintained, functional exercise helps keep the body strong and supple, and decreases the risk of injury in everyday life.

People of all ages can do functional exercises. They’re not designed to be complicated, and we do most of them in our day-to-day lives anyway.

By practicing functional exercises, we help give the body mobility and strength. The more agile you are, the less chance you’ll have of tearing or straining a muscle if you make a certain movement.

Here are the 6 primal movements of functional exercise:

1. Squatting – mimics using your leg muscles to sit, stand and lift objects.

2. Lunging – mimics using leg muscles to walk, run, lift, kneel-down.

3. Pushing – mimics using arm, shoulder and back muscles to open doors, push a trolley etc.

4. Pulling – mimics using arm, shoulder and back muscles to open doors, vacuum etc.

5. Twisting – mimics using neck and back muscles to roll over, turn, look over shoulder etc.

6. Gait – when you walk, jog, run or sprint.

Here are 6 examples of functional exercises, but there are lots of others. A series of exercises are often combined for a full-body functional training workout:

1. Squats with overhead lift

Strengthens your legs, glutes, lower back, arms and shoulders so you can lift your kids, groceries etc without straining your back.

2. Stair climb with bicep curl

Strengthens legs and arms for climbing stairs and carrying things at the same time. Avoids a pulled hamstring if you’re not used to doing this exercise.

3. Diagonal reaches

This exercise works all the muscles involved in reaching for something diagonally overhead, as well as lowering it. Reduces the risk of straining something when lifting an item out of a kitchen cupboard, for example.

4. Knee lifts

This exercise strengthens and tones your shoulders, as well as improving your core strength and balance. Usually performed with small weights in each hand, increasing the weight as you get stronger.

5. Lunges

Develops leg strength and replicates many of the movements we do in everyday life. Strengthened lower body muscles are less likely to sustain an injury.

6. Deadlift

Focuses on activating our pulling muscles and improves shoulder, back and abdominal strength. Minimises the risk of injury when picking heavy things up and putting them down.

Yes, functional exercises were originally used as physical therapy for World War I soldiers, so their origins are in rehabilitation. Exercises were developed to help the soldiers regain basic daily functions, as well as core strength and mobility.

Today, functional exercises play a major part in helping people rehabilitate from injury as quickly as possible. They focus on movements associated with daily functions performed at home or work, such as bending, sitting, walking and standing.

There are several benefits that you can gain from functional exercises. A few of them include:

  • Increased flexibility and coordination: functional exercises are suitable for all ages. They offer resistance which leads to purposeful strength and consequently an increase in your overall flexibility and coordination.
  • Improved balance and posture: many musculoskeletal issues in individuals stem from poor posture. Using functional training routines helps you boost balance in your body – enabling you to have a good posture, and therefore reach your full potential in your daily and sporting activities
  • Easier performance of day to day activities: the exercises, i.e. squats, step ups, lifting, help you to improve your overall body function and day to day mobility. You build abdominal muscle strength and develop whole-body stability. Therefore, these exercises will help you complete your daily, and sporting activities with ease, and reduce the likelihood of injury.
  • Enhances athletic performance: functional training improves multiple fitness principles; cardiovascular fitness, speed, strength, power, muscle, endurance and flexibility.
  • Helps to lose weight: increased muscle movement burns more calories.

We have highly trained professional staff to take care of your needs, as well as a range of osteopathy treatments available to suit your unique situation.

If you’ve sustained an injury from work or sport, then functional exercises will be an integral part of your osteopathy treatment program. These exercises performed regularly will help reduce pain, build strength, and get you moving again.

Whilst it’s possible to do functional exercises on your own (and we do encourage this), if performed incorrectly from the start, you risk injuring yourself.

Once you’ve been shown what to do, you can perform functional exercises by yourself at home, or in the gym. The guidance of our practitioners may possibly speed up your recovery at the initial stages of an injury.

Osteopathy treatment programs can be adapted at any stage of your recovery to suit you and the progress you are making. For instance, you may decide you want to combine Osteopathy, sports massage and functional exercises following an injury. This is a great way to speed up your recovery time and get back to doing what you love to do.