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Adding 'Functional Movements' To Your Workout

Ausar Olugbala, a National Academy of Sports Medicine Certified Personal Trainer at the Geyer Family YMCA in Montclair, shares some tips about functional movement.

Adding 'Functional Movements' To Your Workout

This column was written by Ausar Olugbala, a personal trainer at the Geyer Family YMCA in Montclair.

Functional movement has become a popular phrase in the fitness industry. However, how many gym members have functional movement as a key component of their day-to-day exercise prescription? 

Probably not enough, according to Ausar Olugbala, a National Academy of Sports Medicine Certified Personal Trainer at the local Geyer Family YMCA

Functional movements are based on real world situational biomechanics. They usually involve multi-planar, multi-joint movements, which place demand on the body's core musculature.

Examples of functional movements include, walking upstairs, opening and closing a door (which relates to pulling/pushing musculature) as well as standing up and sitting down.

An example of a multi-planar movement include picking up an item off of the floor to place it on the shelf or side-stepping off of a curb while walking.

I would suggest gym members need to incorporate more multi-planar movements in their daily exercise regimen as opposed to an entire workout that consists of being sedentary with motions that are one plane dominant, or sagittal. 

Three Planes of Motion
There are three planes of motion that one should be aware of: the sagittal, frontal and transverse planes.

The sagittal plane is the plane dividing the body into right and left portions, and is associated with movements predominantly encompassing extension and flexion. Exercises that work the sagittal plane include:

  • Leg extensions
  • Biceps curls
  • Triceps extensions
  • Sit ups
  • Crunches

The frontal plane is the plane that divides the body at any level into anterior (front) and posterior (back) portions. Suggested exercises for the frontal plane include:

  • Side bends
  • Lateral lunges
  • Ice skaters
  • Lat pull downs
  • Side planks

The transverse plane divides the body into superior (top) and inferior (bottom) parts. It is perpendicular to the frontal and sagittal planes. Transverse movements are also are based on external/internal rotation. These movements include:

  • Golf swings
  • Swinging a baseball bat
  • Walking
  • Throwing/pitching,
  • Lifts

It is important that gym members accentuate all three planes of motions with an exercise regimen that relates to their real world situational biomechanics, as functional movements are meant to enhance the efficiency of one’s day-to-day life.

If you are sedentary for the bulk of your days, a functional modality can counteract the inevitability of tight hip flexors, rounded shoulders, and forward head syndrome which leads to lower back pain, bad posture and relative flexibility.

YMCA Workout Schedule
Click here for the group exercise schedule at the YMCA of Montclair, located at 25 Park St. The YMCA is open Mondays through Friday between 5 a.m. and 10 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. 

The pool schedules can be found by clicking here. 

The Geyer Family YMCA, located at 159 Glenridge Ave., is open Mondays through Thursdays between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m., Fridays between 8 a.m. and 6:30 p.m., Saturdays between 8 a.m. and 8:30 p.m., and Sundays between 11:30 a.m. and 5 p.m.

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