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The Functional Approach in Rehab & Sports Therapy


The way our body functions is as real as our anatomy. There are some that like to act or state that "function" or "functional training" are fitness industry buzz words. They make light of the concept. And rightly so, as most of what is labeled  as "functional training" has very little to do with ideal function in the human body. 

Function (aka physiology) as a lot to do with why our anatomy (muscles, tendons, ligaments, bones, nerves, etc.) becomes pathological. Both training and rehabilitative exercise should respect the principles of function in the human body as they relate to posture and movement. It's just reality. Facts are facts.

A number of common pathologies to joints and muscles are the direct result of dysfunctional postures and movement habits that have been present for simply too long.
The tricky thing is, they hide silently only to become symptomatic or problematic. Identifying these dysfunctions and accepting that we have control over them is a huge first step in avoiding pain and limitation.

Dysfunctional postures and movements will only get worse under these conditions:

  1.  increased resistance,
  2.  increased speed of movement, or
  3. increased fatigue

Meaning we feed dysfunction more readily and easily that we think we do. But - if we are conscious enough and deliberate about the postures and movements we practice, we can avoid set backs, recurrent issues, and potentially more limiting physical conditions as we age. You can make a change.

This is huge when it comes to the gym or sport as many people practice technique manipulation in order to achieve a desired result, but these manipulations are not without potential consequences.
Putting proper posture or movement into practice can be the difference between a longer athletic career or one shortened due to recurrent, nagging injuries.


These are powerful truths for anyone dealing with pain or going through rehab. Patients are best served to learn to move well and be empowered by their therapist promoting activity and personal ownership in their healing process. Patients need to learn that a doctor or therapist should not be telling them activities they need to avoid, but rather one that provides you exercises to prepare and strengthen your body for the activities you want to participate in.

This approach leads to patient's developing confidence and a sense of independence, which are wonderful things. 

"To increase confidence, patients need to attempt something previously feared, achieve it, and recognize it as their own achievement."

"Independence and control are fostered by teaching patients to self-reinforce and to attribute their gains to themselves."

Harding V, Simmonds B, 1995


Lack of independence for patient's is a huge problem within rehabilitation and sports therapy. Most patients come to view their chiropractor, therapist, or doctor as the "fixer". They believe their provider must "fix" them and they have very little to do with their healing process, when in reality they are the true "fixer".

Addressing this belief pattern in patients is critical to their expectations during the rehabilitation process and reducing the burden of disability. 

That's why at Gallagher Performance we place an emphasis on educating our patients on what's driving their pain and providing them the tools to promote proper function in their body so they can reduce their sense of disability and participate in the activities they truly enjoy.

"Rehabilitation is to show a patient what they can do for themselves."

Dr. Karel Lewit


Are you someone that is dealing with pain, injury, or limitation in activities or sport? Have you been told to stop certain activities and to rest, only to continue to be frustrated by pain and limitation? Have you tried traditional means of physical therapy, chiropractic, or medicine with poor outcomes? Have you tried resting only to find you are still in pain but more de-conditioned and underprepared physically, leaving you less confident about resuming specific activities or returning to sport?

You need to consider a different approach to your rehab or sports therapy.
You should consider the functional approach. In the following video post, we address the concepts of the functional approach as it relates to low back pain and common reasons for poor sports performance.

That's why we do what we do at Gallagher Performance. We take the functional approach to rehab and sports therapy. We educated our patients and give them the tools to rehabilitate themselves.

Interested in learning more? Give our office a call today at (724) 519-2833.
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Friday, March 01, 2024

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