ATTENTION, READERS in the 28 EUROPEAN VAT COUNTRIES: Because of the new VAT law, you probably can't order books direct from my site now. But that's okay -- just go to my Smashwords author page.
You can order PDFs (as well as all the other ebook formats) from there.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

About Functional Movement

I suppose some of you saw Golf Fitness Academy on GC Monday night. It featured a physical therapist named Gray Cook, who has some pretty impressive credentials including:
  • board-certified orthopedic clinical specialist with the American Physical Therapy Association
  • certified strength and conditioning specialist with the National Strength and Conditioning Association
  • Level I coach with the U. S. Weight Lifting Federation
  • instructor with the North American Sports Medicine Institute
and several other things as well, like working with the Indianapolis Colts Mayo Clinic and the U.S. Military. He and another athletic trainer named Lee Burton started something called Functional Movement Systems, or FMS, which is a method of helping athletes eliminate movement problems that can cause injury.

Gray Cook caught my attention because he made a very noticeable improvement in the range of motion of one of the show's hosts in just a few minutes -- improvements in both balance and flexibility -- without even doing any strength training! In fact, his whole point was that these issues need to be dealt with before we start any major training program. Otherwise we face the possibility of injuring ourselves because we can't do the activities properly.

I've decided to do some research on the things he talked about. As I get older, I find it's much easy to hurt myself doing things that I know I'm strong enough to do, and I don't want to waste my time doing workouts that don't adequately address the problems. My initial research turned up a few resources that I thought I'd pass on to you, in case you want to explore them yourself.

First of all, Cook has written several books on the subject but one seems to be aimed more at athletes than at doctors... and the price is more affordable too. The book is called Athletic Body in Balance. It retails for $19.95 but I found it at Amazon for $11.35 and at for $11.33. (You can read several of the chapters for free at Amazon.) It's also available as an ebook at both places. I'm thinking I'll have to get a copy and check it out... but I'd like to check out some free info first.

This link will take you to Cook's personal website. There are quite a few free articles here, and you can download copies of them as well. Just click the "Articles" button at the top of the page. His newest articles are here, and there's a link to download the older articles from the FMS site listed earlier.

Strength Coach TV has a video featuring Cook talking about Indian clubs (which he demonstrated and mentioned briefly on Golf Fitness Academy last night.) And Strength Coach's podcast site has a list of downloadable podcasts, several of which feature Gray Cook. Just check the list in the right column.

Sports performance coach Patrick Ward attended one of Cook's training seminars last year and put up a couple of posts that condense some of what he said. Part 1 is located here and Part 2 is here. Here are a few I particularly liked:
  • For corrective exercise, put people in a position where they are making a lot of mistakes (this position needs to be a safe position though and not dangerous) and SHUT UP! Don’t over coach them. Let them work it out and learn to develop the pattern... THIS is motor learning! The baby didn’t need you to coach it on how to roll in the crib, crawl or stand. It figured it out on its own.
  • Tarzan, to me, is the epitome of fitness. The guy is strong, agile and quick. He can run, jump, climb and swing through trees. If we take a person who moves well and put them on a crossfit type of training program, we turn them into tarzan. If we take that same program and give it to the majority of people in society who move poorly, we turn them into a patient.
  • The FMS is species specific, not sport specific. The FMS is made up of basic patterns that everyone should be able to perform, regardless of sport. These patterns show themselves in everyday movements and sports movements because we are all human beings.
That last one especially should sound familiar to you. I'm real big on workouts that make your whole life better, rather than just your game. And since Cook does so much with golf-related training (he works with the Titleist Performance Institute, which is behind the Golf Fitness Academy show), that means a lot.

GC also has a couple of clips from Golf Fitness Academy on their site -- one on building body balance and another on doing a modified deadlift.

Finally, here's the start of a golf-oriented series on the "chop and lift" technique he discussed on the show last night. There are 5 articles, and this page links to all of them.

I also found a couple of longer videos on specific techniques Cook discussed on the show, but I'll post them in the next couple of days since I think they deserve a closer look. But if you're interested in exploring this approach to improving your golf in more detail, this post should give you enough material to get started.


  1. "If we take that same program and give it to the majority of people in society who move poorly, we turn them into a patient." Hilarious! But that remains to be true. The strain of physical exercises remain to be an impediment for normal people to consistently take part of training programs. Not only that, if trainers give them a spartan regimen, it could lead them to break bones literally.

  2. If only more people understood -- when you're out of shape, you don't need to exercise as hard to get a training effect. If the program is tailored to your fitness level, you get a good workout without getting strained.

    I like what fitness writer John E. Peterson said -- the right program for you leaves you feeling invigorated, not trashed. (Those weren't his exact words, but it's what he meant. ;-)