It doesn’t take an expert in evolution to see that the human body was built to move. Every day at our clinic in Newmarket, we treat athletes who push their bodies to new limits—whether it be lifting weights, swimming, running marathons, or recovering from difficult injuries.

What makes our bodies even more fascinating is their distinct differences. No two bodies are the same, which is why we need functional tests to find the root cause of an injury or limitation.

“I’ve always been fascinated by the body, specifically in terms of movement and performance. As human beings, we are movement. If we lost our ability to move, we would lose what makes us who we are. The artist would lose her ability to paint. The construction worker would lose his ability to build,” says Align physiotherapist Valerie Rolf von den Baumen.

Valerie is trained in a specialized diagnostic tool known as a Functional Movement Assessment. The objective screening tool measures seven movements that are essential to daily life, including things like turning your head, touching your toes and doing a squat. By rating each movement as “optimal,” “acceptable,” or “dysfunctional,” Valerie is able to see what areas of her patient’s body aren’t working well.

The Functional Movement Assessment is a great tool for people who suffer from sporadic pain, or those who can’t attribute their pain to a particular injury—you know, those kind of “mysterious” pains that so many of us chose to live with. “That’s the beauty of this assessment—it looks at the body as one system. You may suffer from shoulder pain, but if you only look at the shoulder you may not find the root of the issue,” she explains.

For example, Valerie had a patient who competed in CrossFit who only felt pain in his shoulder when he lifted anything more than 200-pounds. “If you looked at his shoulder everything was fine—it was only his pain that was registering there. The problem was actually in his thoracic spine movement. Unless you looked at his body movement as a whole, you wouldn’t have picked that up,” she explains.

By determining the root cause of the patient’s pain, Valerie was able to develop a personalized training program to help build strength and realign his thoracic spine—eventually allowing him to progress in his training and lift heavier. “I have so many patients who believe that pain is normal. Because the pain comes and goes, they don’t do anything about it. But no one should live with pain,” says Valerie.

If diagnostic tools like the Functional Movement Assessment teach us anything, it’s that of our physical limitations can be fixed—sometimes the body just needs a little bit of help to overcome them. If you’re an athlete who is ready to take your training to the next level, contact the clinic to schedule a consultation with Valerie today.

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