Functional Training – First of 3 Part Series

Posted on 27 May 2010

The following 3 part series is from RaceTwitch Pro-Team member, Kata Gemes.   Kata lives in Budapest, Hungary and has extensive experience  coaching athletes with functional training programs including:   Pilates-method, yoga, body art, Berczik-method, weight training and cross training.   The coaching focus is to prevent injuries and overload.   Other aspects of her coaching include core training and generall nutritional consulting based on an evolutionary views.

Why is functional training is important for endurance sport athletes?

Have you ever suffered from pain or injuries in your joints?  Many ultra runners suffer from several pain because of overloaded or misused joints and muscles. The most commons of these problems are the several type of back, hip, knee and Achilles pain which is a result from the muscular imbalance and joint instability of the body.

While running your joints, spine, hip and knee get the majority of the load, and only the muscles around these joints can decrease these strain.  Balanced strength of these muscles has a great importance to prevent micro-injuries of the joints while you run.  Most runners know that strong leg muscles are important to get better performance and prevent the knee joint pain, but many do not pay attention to improving the strength and flexibility of the core muscles, like abdominals and axial muscles.   The focus is always putting in “more miles”.   Moreover strength of the muscles is one thing, but if they are not well-balanced then your joints will be mis-loaded.   For example the outer muscle in your leg is much stronger and tighter then the inner muscles which can cause your knee joint to mis-load.  If you incorporate functional training methods to develop a strong and balanced muscle system then there are opportunities to increase your performance along with injury prevention.  Functional training focuses on the natural, functional movement of the body which require several specific abilities using several muscle fibers, and range of movements.  If any of these functionalities decreases  then there is a corresponding increase in the probability of injuries.  The specific funtional training exercises maximize the range of movement/motion while minimizing the impact on the joints using the bio-mechanical functionality of the muscles.

I will recommend some useful functional training exercises to incorporate into your training programs with future blog posts for this Series. 

The exercises will be divided into two groups.  General exercises can be useful for all athletees who participate in  endurance sports and will  improve fitness.  The second section of exercises will be sport specific with the goal of improving sport specific performance.

Stay tuned for Kata’s future posts!

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