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Applied Functional Science

During my career, I was blessed to be teaching faculty at the world-renowned Gray Institute for eight years. While there, I taught over 800 students the science of Applied Functional Science, a cornerstone of my practice. Applied Functional Science (AFS), developed by the Gray Institute, considers human movement in all three planes. It emphasizes that all our movements are a Chain Reaction® and that pain in one body part is often caused by dysfunction in other parts. Furthermore, Applied Functional Science notes that to understand the differences between causes, compensations, and symptoms, you must also understand our Transformational Zones, where movements change direction, and the load becomes the explode. When you see the body as integrated rather than isolated, you can see how the parts play into the whole. 

Movement can and should help with movement-related issues. However, it is the correct movement that helps. While rest, medication, therapy, a brace, and other modalities may assist, the correct movement, which is functionally and biomechanically specific to the task, is necessary for recovery and prevention, as well as enhanced performance. 

We can apply this process to all activities, programs that prevent injury, post-injury or post-operative rehab, or even to boost performance. The difference is not in the movements and exercises but in the application, emphasis, and sequencing based on the individual’s current level of success. 

Traditional rehabilitation typically isolates the injured body part from the rest of the body, even when parts, like a shoulder, are closely connected to and affected by neighboring regions. Often, with shoulder problems (or knee, hip, back, neck, etc. problems), the shoulder is naturally blamed, but it’s not just the shoulder’s fault. It’s really “the hip, through the trunk, through the scapula, through the humerus, through the shoulder. It’s the Chain Reaction.   

The challenge in treating injuries is that the cause could be anywhere in the body.

Many compensation patterns are subtle or hardly noticeable and grow over time to a larger scale compensation. This ‘domino effect’ harms an individual’s Biomechanical Integrity and Movement Quality. Unfortunately, if uncorrected or undetected, the patterns of compensation and associated Movement Dysfunctions can and will disrupt Human Movement, increasing the risk of injury and damage to the body, even if the individual is unaware of these risks. Optimal biomechanics and reduced risk for injury go hand-in-hand.

The goal of rehabilitation is to identify and treat both the cause and the compensations within the body’s Chain Reaction. From a Biomechanics perspective, it doesn’t make sense to isolate the injured part from the rest of the body’s resources that help itself heal. When you consider the healing knee as one piece of a recovery puzzle rather than an individual problem, a targeted biomechanics approach allows the injury to heal more thoroughly. These principles, integrated with neuromusculoskeletal Chain Reaction™ biomechanics, lead to powerful strategies that guide the decision-making process. It also allows one to address dysfunction and compensations in other areas of the body that could lead to injury in the future.

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