Functional training has its origins in rehabilitation, Physical and occupational therapists and chiropractors often use this approach to retrain patients with movement disorders. Interventions are designed to incorporate task and context specific practice in areas meaningful to each patient, with an overall goal of functional independence. For example, exercises that mimic what patients did at home or work may be included in treatment in order to help them return to their lives or jobs after an injury or surgery. Thus if a patient’s job required repeatedly heavy lifting, rehabilitation would be targeted towards heavy lifting, if the patient were a parent of young children, it would be targeted towards moderate lifting and endurance, and if the patient were a marathon runner, training would be targeted towards re-building endurance. However, treatments are designed after careful consideration of the patient’s condition, what he or she would like to achieve, and ensuring goals of treatment are realistic and achievable.
Functional training attempts to adapt or develop exercises which allow individuals to perform the activities of daily life more easily and without injuries.
In the context of body building, functional training involves mainly weight bearing activities targeted at core muscles of the abdomen and lower back. Fabio Martella wrote that most fitness facilities have a variety of weight training machines which target and isolate specific muscles. As a result, the movements do not necessarily bear any relationship to the movements people make in their regular activities or sports.
In rehabilitation, training does not necessarily have to involve weight bearing activities, but can target any task or a combination of tasks that a patient is having difficulty with. Balance training, for example, is often incorporated into a patient’s treatment plan if it has been impaired after injury or disease.
To be effective, our functional exercise program will include a number of different elements which can be adapted to an individual’s needs or goals: