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Functional Movement Screen: The Key to Your Pain

Editor's Message: "No worries, it is not hurting much.  It is going to go away." Does that sound familiar? It happened to me just a few months ago. I had a slight pain in my inner elbow whenever I pressed with my finger tips or squeeze. After ignoring it for a few months, the pain in my inner elbow actually diminished, only that it mysteriously moved to my outer elbow. So, from experience, I can honestly say that pain is not something you can just ignore. A practitioner explained the "why".

Normal functional movement is dependent on the ability of the nervous system to coordinate movements of muscles surrounding joints. These muscles are classified as agonists (the prime mover), antagonists (opposite to the prime mover), Synergists (helpers) and stabilizers. Depending on the movement, muscles will change their classification, e.g.  During arm flexion, the biceps is the agonist and triceps the antagonist. This will be reversed during arm extension.

An imbalance between muscles results in postural distortion patterns.  These patterns are characterized by a combination of over active (short and tight) muscles, underactive (long and inhibited muscles), synergistic dominance (helper muscles attempting to compensate) and joint dysfunction.

If postural distortion patterns go uncorrected, a vicious cycle results, characterized by patterns of immobility, instability, repetitive injuries, chronic pain and eventually degenerative joint disease.

The body will migrate toward predictable patterns of movement in response to pain or in the presence of weakness, tightness, or structural abnormality. Over time, these pain-attenuated movement patterns lead to protective movement and fear of movement, resulting in clinically observed impairments such as decreased ROM, muscle length changes, and declines in strength.

Functional restoration requires identifying dysfunctional patterns. This is first done by observing/screening certain gross movement patterns and then breaking down those patterns that are abnormal, in order to identify the over and underactive muscles as well as the dysfunctional joints.

The functional movement screen allows a practitioner and patient to gain a clinical perspective of the cause of the problem rather than just the symptom, so that an effective treatment strategy can be implemented.

The Functional movement screen serves to efficiently integrate the concepts of posture, muscle balance and the fundamental patterns of the movement system.  In addition, it can provide subjective and objective feedback for the effectiveness of therapy, which targets the dysfunctional movement patterns and related impairments.

Dr. Lecovin is a chiropractor, naturopathic physician and acupuncturist. He specializes in treating musculoskeletal pain and sports injuries by integrating trigger point acupuncture, soft tissue release, joint manipulation, corrective exercise and nutrition. In addition, he combines exercise and nutrition for weight loss, weight gain and performance enhancement.


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