At Gray Institute®, our movement instructions to patients / clients focus on an action or task that we want them to execute. It could be a lunge, squat, or reach. It could create a visual image like “think about quickly grabbing an object and placing it here.” Instructions are designed to create a Chain Reaction® that produces the desired joint motions. The 10 Observational Essentials of the Certification of Applied Functional Science® (CAFS) serve as a foundation of variables which practitioners of Applied Functional Science® (AFS) use to refine the instructions. (Fore more info on CAFS, please visit https://www.grayinstitute.com/courses/cafs.)
The goal of the movement / exercise may be to create a particular joint motion in a specific plane or a combination of motions from each of the planes. The purpose of the motion could be to lengthen a specific group of muscles. That lengthening is intended to activate and load those muscles as part of a training program. However, the instructions would never be “use your quads more” or “load your glutes.” Instead, the direction of a squat with reach would be altered to require more of the muscle(s). With the tweaked movement, the AFS practitioner, while wanting and facilitating more motion, would likely not use instructions like “use more dorsiflexion with that lunge.” Instead, the description of the task would be adjusted by adjusting the conscious task.
The movement task could be general in nature, like the Analysis Movements of 3D Movement Analysis and Performance System (3DMAPS®). It might also be a movement that closely resembles the activity our patient / client desires to perform. An example of this might be a baseball shortstop preparing to reach with his / her glove to the right in order to backhand a ground ball. We want our patient / client to be conscious of the task and unaware of the specific joint motions and muscle actions required to execute the movement. (Fore more info on 3DMAPS®, please visit https://www.grayinstitute.com/courses/maps.)
Task-driven movements are used, not only for training and rehabilitation, but also for establishing baselines of successful movement. The task “asks” the body a functional movement question and the body provides a functional movement “answer.” The instructions do not detail how to perform the movement perfectly. Instead, the movement is analyzed to determine how the body prefers to put the different body parts together to create the movement “solution.” If the solution is less than desirable, then the task instructions are tweaked to alter the movement.
This approach to training and rehabilitation programs is consistent with the dynamical systems approach to movement and motor control. Generalized motor programs, lacking execution specifics, are activated to accomplish the task. The specific joint motions and the muscle synergy created by these motions, are modified, in real time, as the movement progresses. Different combinations of motions and muscles can accomplish the same task. Practitioners can serve their clients well by tweaking tasks to “teach” the body different ways to coordinate the body’s resources to create effective and efficient movement.