Categories of Movement


Foundational: The basis or groundwork on which something is established or understood


In establishing the foundations to successful human movement and action we must first focus on the understanding and awareness of correct movement systems and strategies. From the beginning the emphasis is on the quality of the movement skill in positioning the body to make actions as precise and ideal as possible. Following on from here the coaching is on the individual improving the physical capability to perform the integrated movement using regions or all of the body. However at the same time there is equal importance placed upon preventing unwanted movement - or compensatory movements - during the action. 


The initial stages of foundational training are as much about learning and exploring movement as achievement of positions, actions or repetitions. The sensory feedback that is a continuous throughout our nervous system during movement must be interpreted effectively in order for the movement or action to be the best available at that time. Teaching, advise, instruction and prompts all help in getting this bio-sensory feedback processed correctly to then increase the recognition of optimal and suboptimal positioning and performance. Once the differentiation between the two has been set, then the understanding of how to move ideally has been introduced, which obviously remains a constant factor throughout any form of training. 


Beginning in positions of greatest support offers the opportunity for the conscious focus to target the key body area or region of intended movement. The level of support provides the opportunity  to concentrate on specific interconnected regions through limiting the number of added requirements and roles that would be needed in more challenging positions. As the active movements are performed and repeated the conscious understanding of how these are executed  begins to be stored as muscle memory and addresses any movement amnesia.   


On occasions this can mean re-learning primitive movements that were developed naturally from birth but that have been diminished due to unnatural postures, actions or sports.. It is not that the actions have been lost entirely but more like they have been forgotten and the body requires reminding how to move in its most effective, efficient and competent manner. 


Even though this inception phase begins the evolution of movement progression it does not preclude the involvement of transitioning within training. Fully supported arrangements can still include movement between positions to provide challenge. It also introduces, from the earliest stage, the concept of movement with direction and within dimensions as part of the need for

physical capability.

Transitional: Movement, or change from one position to another


During human movement the transition stage exists between the deceleration or impact stage and the propulsion or acceleration stage. Its inter-connective role is to provide the stability and control between these two positions as one moves into the other. In order for these force productions or actions to occur successfully, whilst reducing injury potential, the transition phase requires maximal 3 dimensional control. Life’s movements and actions are 3 dimensional, multi-plane motions that incorporate all or some of the bodies regions in order to complete a task. These 3 dimensional dynamic movements require successful transitioning between positions to provide optimal function. 


From a soft tissue perspective, during loaded movement, the preloading or energy harnessing phase pre-empts the force transference into force output phases. Therefore transitioning through these stages has an integral role within full body motion. Its efficacy within performance has a huge influence over the quality of any real body movement but is just as important and influential within relative motion. The control of unwanted movement alongside the performance of desired movement is of equal importance. Transitioning movement training is an effective way of challenging 3D real and relative movement with a focus on precision and avoiding unwanted compensatory movements. 


Another purpose of transitioning is as a movement change in itself and so qualifies as an important training principle. Still, the concept remains the same. Optimising the ability to move from position to position, in all planes and dimensions, affects and improves global movement. It also achieves the aim of exercise mimicking real life. As we move throughout our daily lives we transition in and out of a broad variety of positions.   


Its use within training and conditioning is a critical component in achieving the full quality of exercise results but also serves as a highly useful tool in determining areas of improvement or neglect that require attention. The combining of individual movements into a dynamic motion collective thereby covers all the primal movement requirements our bodies need.

Functional: Action or activity proper to a person. To perform a specified action or activity


Functional movement is to move successfully according to the bio-mechanical design of the human physiological systems for purpose. These purposes vary over a wide spectrum dependent on the aim, requirement or demand. In achieving quality functional movement the goal should be able to move as effectively, efficiently and productively as possible for any given task. When performed ideally these movements will flow with equal distribution of load and force throughout all bodily structures. These forces will be both generated, sustained, tolerated and transferred through the body in completing the physical objective. When performed expertly this movement flow can appear complex yet effortless and it is anything but easy. 


Functional movement training develops the learned movement behaviours that have been created, established and ingrained as instinctive through the foundational and transitional training. However it is not to be viewed as the final stage in a sequential order of difficulty hierarchy. Foundation and transition training can be equally challenging to master and remain a constant throughout all elements of exercise, as does functional training. The difference here is not only in the complexity or demand of the training but in maintaining all the fundamentals that have been acquired previously. 


The base principles of movement quality acquisition and maintenance are the bedrock when undertaking any training challenge. As such any challenge has strong elements of all types of movement training. Foundational, transitional and functional training are not to be used as separate exercise styles but rather an interactive group that covers all necessary aspects of whole body conditioning. The concept of functional exercise is based upon the successful transference of all the physical motion improvements that have been consolidated through training and applying them to real life activities. As all life’s activities have multi-directional and 3 dimensional components, that move between and within one another, functional exercise aims to capture that variety and enhance it. 


Similar to the premise behind increasing the challenges of foundational and transitional activity, functional exercise uses both additional and reductive loads and supports to elevate the demand. Following on from this it can also be modified and adapted in any way viable to include all elements of movement systems. Training that begins with foundational movements can then transition into less supported and therefore more challenging postures. From here further direction or dimensional transitions can move the challenge forward into the least supported positions and if required added load or resistance further enhances the complexity of the overall full body action. The continued transitioning and loading/unloading of movements on varied levels of supportive base are structured around actual daily movement functions. The purpose for this is very simple and is the same principle that directs most forms of exercise, training and conditioning: The improvements gained through exercise should enhance the quality, ease, process and performance of human movement function. What ever that may be for any and each individual.