What’s Your Functional Range?

Dec 18th, 2013

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Category: Fitness

What’s Your Functional Range?

Most of us that come from a personal training background would have said at one time “keep a neutral spine” during a client’s squat or other exercise. However well-meant at the time we’ve come a long way since those days even though our occupational standards for Fitness qualifications at Level 2 and 3 still have this as a reference point.Perhaps understandably so given the time that some training providers take in delivering their Level 2 and 3 timetables and this is a fundamental that needs revision if we are to improve standards in fitness professional development. However I digress!


When considering what’s appropriate KiMotion reference ‘Functional Range’


This is where the individuals range or movement pattern will be effected  by postural sensitivities, movement sensitivities and weight-bearing sensitivities. (Vollowitz, 1988) i.e. an individual with postural sensitivities will adopt a certain posture if having to stand for an extended duration to avoid discomfort, another with movement sensitivities will avoid a certain movement such as full spinal extension when reaching up and back to avoid discomfort and lastly another with weight-bearing sensitivities will find that certain loads increase joint compression, axial loading which of course they will avoid with adapting joint angle and alignment.


Using the squat as an example for the above will mean that the same individual will adapt their joint kinematics intrinsically and sometimes subconsciously depending on the type of squat, duration and loading parameters.


Here’s a nice little research article that reminds us that being rigid in our approach to postures being held (in this case the squat and knee positioning) will have diverse effects for different individuals: 


Here’s a summary
Background and Objective
The researchers wanted to compare knee and hip flexion angles and stresses throughout the entire range of motion of the squat during squatting with knees held back behind the toes and when the knees were allowed to move forward.



Squatting while allowing the knee to come forwards placed more emphasis on the quadriceps. However it also lead to greater forces on the knee, and squatting with the knees kept behind the toes placed more emphasis on the Glutes and hamstrings. However, it led to greater  forces on the lower back.


In other words, dependent on your history and objectives the individual requires movements/exercises that should be specific that adapts to their functional range and objectives

There is no one singular static held position that suits all although a ‘bitter pill’ to swallow, it’s no less the case!

The obvious follow-up question to the above statement is can you change somebody’s Functional Range? And of course you can. Any movement/exercise can be broken down to different phases and zones. i.e. eccentric and concentric or loading unloading. The point at which you convert from one to the other, say change from the eccentric to the concentric is a Ki-Conversion Zone that once identified can be trained in the 3 planes and developed further in the 3 planes significantly affecting function and functional range.

Applying this Knowledge

There are some fundamental principles that can help guide our strategies:

  • Principle of Ki Conversion Zones  – The movements point of conversion
Once the range and points of conversion have been identified consider training your client at these points first unsupported then with gradual removal of support until it meets the functional requirements. See FTS Level 3 for more detail.


  • Principle of Individual Variability – Differences must be allowed for functional movements

Of course safety comes first however individual clients when asked will complete a task where possible in the easiest manner possible this is not wrong as it will tell you a lot about their movement capabilities and functional range. Train your client from their safety/success ranges first.


So do you know your Functional Range and are you training your Ki-Conversion Zones?


‘Comparison of the angles and corresponding moments in the knee and hip during restricted and unrestricted squats.’

Lorenzetti S, Gülay T, Stoop M, List R, Gerber H, Schellenberg F,
Stüssi E.


Gary Gray, Dr David Tiberio, Doug Gray Gray Institute

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