What we perceive to be our function in life influences what we believe to be essential to our physical function.
What is the purpose of my life?
That is a foundational functional training question.
For some function in life is to provide a safe, secure, and comfortable experience for their family and themselves.
For them, functional training focuses on keeping the body fit, responsive, and pain-free so that they can provide for their family.
Others may see their purpose in life as being the best at a specific sport.
For them, functional training focuses on central and peripheral actions that help them win.
For a woman who believes the purpose of her life is to be a fantastic mother, carrying her baby in her arms seems to be a natural extension of her function as a mother.
She may view low back and shoulder pain as a natural consequence of carrying her baby. She accepts that with grace and love.
However, she may not have to suffer to give love.
Possible functional strength training plans for her would only be useful to her as long as she doesn’t see them interfering with her perception of what a good mother is.
This mother fully commits to a pain treatment process if she believes it is part of being a good mother.
You see, our view about our function in life influences physical functional training programs.
What if a person believes that part of their responsibility in life is to work and provide?
For that person, sitting behind a computer desk for hours without a break matches their perception. All the upper back and shoulder pain related to a forward head syndrome is part of the job.
In a physical sense, one of the most significant challenges facing an individual is adherence to available and effective treatments.
I don’t need to tell a person with high blood pressure to watch their salt intake or a person with high cholesterol to monitor and reduce their animal product intake.
But many of them, even after a heart attack and open-heart surgery, do not stay with proven dietary guidelines.
I have listened to their reasons as to why they do not stay within their dietary guidelines. They have different reasons, such as lacking discipline.
When we examine how incredibly disciplined they are when it comes to caring for the nutritional requirements of those they love, then the lack of discipline would not make sense.
These individuals view giving care to others as their primary function in life but not providing care to themselves.
I don’t need to tell a soccer player how their hamstring responsiveness impacts their knee. Most of them know. But again, many of them do not stay with the recommended treatment protocol that is done off the field and on their own.
I have heard that they don’t have the time until we examine the redundancies in their workout routines. These redundancies are time-consuming duplicate activities that could be eliminated without any impact on performance.
These athletes consider all the “team activities” as part of their function, but not the individual activities are done off the field.
For functional training treatment programs to work, they must fit within our perception of what our life purpose is.
Fortunately, with a little bit of time and creative problem solving, there always seems to be a way to design functional training programs that fit without our belief system.
I am aware of only one exception to this. There are habitual learning activities that have nothing to do with our role in life. Long-term habits simulate beliefs.
If long-term and learned habits cause dysfunction, then part of the functional training is to reshape these habits.
Mental, emotional, and physical behavior patterns resist change.
The initial stage of a functional training program examines and identifies harmful habits that could and should be modified.
Beliefs and habits show up in behavior patterns and not just single acts. The solutions are also behavior patterns and not a single action.
Physical functional training is only useful when it reflects a person’s view of his or her function in life.