Applied Functional Science
During my career I was blessed to be teaching faculty at the world renowned Gray Institute for 8 years. While there I taught over 800 students the science of Applied Functional Science, which is 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 of the body. 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 in 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 simply 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 for example, are closely connected to and affected by neighboring regions. Many times, 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. Reduced mobility or insufficient strength at the scapula-thoracic articulation, thoracic spine, hip joint, or ankle-foot complex could be the cause of shoulder pain and inhibit the injured parts ability to heal. To treat the cause, we must identify the cause(s). From a Chain Reaction perspective, it doesn’t make sense to isolate the injured part from the rest of the body’s resources that help itself heal.
The goal of any movement-based intervention is to first identify where in the “Chain Reaction®” the parts of the system are not functioning normally. When you analyze and identify what’s happening in the spine, hips, and even the feet, you can understand more of how the shoulder was injured in the first place. Once you have that understanding, you’ll be able to rehabilitate the injury completely by addressing issues and compensations in other areas of the body allowing you to avoid re-injuring your body in the future.