It is important to remember that functional strength is about performance, not aesthetic appearance or developing muscle mass. Therefore, the first and most important key to developing functional strength is having a solid structural foundation with your body. A solid structural foundation is having proper postural alignment. Deviation and alteration of the body’s postural alignment has a very large effect on a person’s ability to exert and absorb force.
Every muscle in the body has a particular function that it is designed to do. Each muscle connects at a specific point on a joint and when the position of the joint changes, it changes the muscle’s ability function properly. A change in joint position results in the decreased ability of the muscle to do work or, in the worst case, complete deactivation of the muscle.
People often to force their bodies to continue working despite the decrease in muscle function. As a result, the body begins to compensate by calling upon other muscles groups to help. A person is not reaching their maximum strength potential because compensating muscles are called upon to do something they are not designed to do. Put simply, a muscle doing what it is designed to do will always be stronger than a muscle doing something it is not designed to do.
Many athletes have not maximized their bodies’ natural potential because of postural misalignment. With that in mind, you see that athletes can automatically increase their functional strength without any additional strength training by correcting postural dysfunctions. Having postural alignment allows the body to return to a state in which every muscle is doing its intended job.
An athlete’s strength can later be increased beyond his/her current potential through a functional strength training program, especially designed for that athlete’s individual needs. A strength program should only be incorporated after a certain amount of alignment and functionality has been achieved or else the athlete will only be strengthening the compensating muscles and increasing his/her postural dysfunctions.
Can an athlete increase overall strength and performance without postural alignment first? Yes, there are numerous high level athletes who perform extremely well despite their dysfunctions due to their athleticism and determination. However, problems eventually arise later on in that athlete’s career. It is all too common to see strength added before alignment is achieved and that why we see the bodies of many athletes become worse and worse over time, even though they have been told that strength training should make their bodies better.