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Functional Active Release Techniques


The word ‘functional’, as it tries to convey ‘related/useful/applicable to life’ types of concepts, is so overused it’s almost painful.  Functional techniques, functional nutrition, functional movements…it’s the new bandwagon to jump on and so I’m almost immediately sceptical when I hear it (even though I use it myself!)

What does it mean?  What it *intends* to describe is the idea that something is closely related to how we move and behave in *real life*.  One good example is the evolution of resistance training.  Up until recently, even ‘rehabilitation’ exercise mimicked the single muscle group strengthening approach that stemmed from bodybuilding practices. Those bodybuilding practices were intended to simply build and define muscles as individual components of a whole (arm, leg, abdomen) in order to enhance their appearance (big biceps and well defined from the deltoid, for example).  You know – looking very ‘cut’ and ‘big’ and ‘defined’.  But that doesn’t necessarily mean that these features translated into something useful for anything else in their life.

It is a bit like admiring yogis for their ability to turn themselves into pretzels, or admiring individuals who can do back bends or – dare I say – touch their toes with palms flat or do 20 sit ups.  I don’t judge the goal itself…if you want to do those things because it’s fun, or because you are competitive and your friends can…then great! But being able to do these kinds of things is not a measure of health or balance and aspiring to do those things is a misplaced goal for someone who doesn’t need to do that in their daily life.  (In other words, if you don’t need to touch your palms flat on the floor to do what you do in life, don’t stress out if you can’t do it – there is nothing ‘wrong’ with you!)

That is what is meant by ‘functional’ in describing a movement or technique.  The aim is to minimise waste in movement and inefficiencies in movement pattern creation by using movements that are related to *your* daily needs to more rapidly enhance your recovery.

Now, Functional Active Release takes neuromuscular techniques (deep tissue typically) one stop forward on the route to efficiency by using the patient’s movements along with the osteopath’s technique.  I took a course recently to learn and expand upon the techniques I had already – and in some cases I had learned these techniques for some areas before they were called ‘functional’ techniques. I have seen this approach be more effective in treating trigger points in some parts of the body, and have begun to incorporate them more fully into my work.

I’m currently trying to make them ‘really’ more functional by doing these treatments while weight bearing to see the immediate effects of body weight loading.  Much of traditional osteopathic treatment is conducted laying down while the patient is passive, but this is starting to change and I’ve started seeing improved benefits.  More movement, more exercise between sessions, and more ‘coaching’ make for a faster recovery so you can get back to doing what you want to be doing with your life.

If you are interested in knowing more, I’m happy to answer your questions.  Book in and let’s show you how it works!

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