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Pillars of Functional Movement 

Athletic and general functional performance is made up of a series of controlled and purposeful movements and is an interesting concept when you look at the all the seemingly independent pillars that support good performance. One must have the mobility for movement, stability to control movement, knowledge of the movements needed, strength to perform the movements under increasing loads, power when performing the movements, and endurance to repeatedly perform the movements. All these movement pillars when mastered increase the individual’s ability to execute athletic performance at a very high and refined level.

None of the pillars mentioned are more important than the others. Without one or a shortcoming of one or more of the pillars the sum total of movement will lack balance, increase the risk of injury, and ultimately hinder performance. Also, each pillar is an independent variable on its own but for it to have purpose each pillar relies on the other pillars. For example, full range of motion or mobility at the hips is independent of power, stability, strength, knowledge, or endurance. But for the range of motion in the hip to have purpose it relies on all heavily on all the other pillars of performance. But, if there was limited mobility in the hip the other pillars would be limited in what they could do. Eventually this would create uneven forces on the body’s physical structures resulting in injury and decreased performance.

When the body moves the brain has a general idea of the muscles that need to be fired and in what rhythm. But because movement does not happen in a controlled environment the synergistic patterns are never truly the same and are adapting continuously to the smallest changes in the body’s center of mass. This creates large demands on all the systems that are responsible for functional movement and the stress become greater the higher the loads become and faster the body is moving. Having a balanced system responsible for controlled movement will allow the body to adapt to the changing demands placed upon it while in motion.   

When designing a training routine we have to look at all the pillars that make up functional performance and determine if the program increases one aspect of performance while decreasing one or more other aspect of performance. If this is the case the training program needs to redesigned to level all the pillars and promote a balanced functional performance. This will allow for maximum strength, power, and stability that can be reproduced over and over without ever having to worry about injury as a result.          



  1. Mercer, V., & Sahrmann, S. (1999). Postural synergies associated with a stepping task.Journal of the American Physical Therapy Association, 79(12), 1141-1152. Retrieved December 4, 2014, from
  2. Relationship Between Core Stability, Functional Movement, and Performance By: Okada, Tomoko, Kellie C Huxel, and Thomas W Nesser.Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research


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