In a time where every media publication, TV show, and fitness “expert” wants to talk about and advertise how dangerous CrossFit is, no one has ever taken the time to break down the inherent safety of performing functional movements, which challenge us every day.Functional movements are found everywhere: in your daily lives, in the sporting arena, and in combat. They are how humans are designed to move. They involve picking things up of the ground, pushing and pulling, squatting, running, jumping and all derivatives and combinations of. Whether you are prepared for them or not, they are what life will demand. You are going to have to change a tire on the side of the road, pick yourself up off the ground, or run to your gate with a duffle bag on your shoulder to catch your flight. In addition to that, they allow us to do the activities that make life enjoyable: playing with kids, hiking a mountain, being independent. Not having good capacity in functional movements is a terrible place to be, and the best way to enhance your abilities or regain them is to practice functional movements.Functional movements are multi-joint, multi muscle group movements that allow athletes to deliver or receive large amounts of force safely by dispersing force across a system as opposed to just a single joint or muscle. The stimulus of being able to load the skeleton in this manner drives adaptations like increased muscle mass, bone density, and signals important hormones like HGH and testosterone. In addition to the physical changes in the body, operating multiple joints with loads and high forces develops coordination, agility, and balance.
Coincidentally the one place we do not see functional movements happening is in the traditional gym environment, where these movements are broken up in isolation into their individual pieces. This greatly diminishes their value as the ability to coordinate and load the body is lost. The squat becomes the leg extension or hamstring curl and although anyone can do this without and coaching, there will be little carry over or benefit to overall fitness. Just an observation, but this arena is where most of the criticisms of CrossFit are coming from…interesting.