Get 110% out of your body with FMT

It's a new year. So how about giving your body a new lease of life and helping it regain optimal efficiency? Functional Manual TherapyTM (FMT) promises to get you there.

FMT will debut in India at VARDAN, an initiative of The Times Group in collaboration with The Institute of Physical Art (IPA), USA. The IPA's comprehensive and innovative FMT curriculum prepares the physical therapist to competently and intuitively integrate evidence and clinical experience with each individual.

FMT, developed by Gregory and Vicky Johnson, is an effective evaluation and treatment system that promotes optimum human performance by enhancing total body mobility. The unique aspect of FMT is the integration of the mobility treatment with neuromuscular facilitation (ability to initiate the right muscles at the right time with proper strength and endurance) and motor control (the ability to effectively produce coordinated postural and movement strategies).

Whether people are suffering from chronic or acute pain, or recovering post surgery, or simply aspire to be able to do what they want to do (from running to the store to running the marathon!) FMT helps you get back to "full living" as Gregory calls it. It is a three-dimensional approach to the body: physical, spiritual and emotional.

One of the principles of FMT is the CoreFirstTM strategy. A CoreFirst strategy is when the brain automatically engages your core prior to any movement or activity. This gives the big "mover" muscles of the body more strength and coordination. This approach, developed by Vicky Johnson and exclusive to the IPA, facilitates an Automatic Core Engagement (ACE) through efficient postures and specific proprioceptive and kinesthetic training. Says Vicky, "Everyone talks about using the core muscles, but a lot of that is done volitionally, through exercise. We teach our patients postural and movement strategies that allow their core to fire all day long. So if everything you do during the day is allowing your core to fire, then you don't need to lie down on the floor and do 45 minutes of core exercises, because you've exercised for 18 hours when you go to bed at night. Our job is to make sure that your life is, in fact, in itself an exercise."

Functional Manual Therapists also teach the right way to exercise to strengthen the crucial stabiliser muscles. You may be able to do hundred situps, but your deep core muscles may not be firing. You may have done months of shoulder exercises and the muscles of your shoulder blade, necessary to stabilize and protect your shoulder, are still asleep. These integral muscles need direct facilitation in specific functional patterns to wake up and work for you. Utilizing very specific manual assessment and facilitation techniques, every primary muscle group in the body is evaluated and exercised in a personalised manner.

What would an FMT session be like for someone going in for the first time? Says Gregory, "About an hour would be set aside for an initial evaluation by our experts, Charles King and Jevene Summers. Two people with the precise same pain may have entirely different treatment needs, and we have the skills and knowledge to see through to the root of the problem. What sets us apart is that we methodically dissect your symptoms to better understand the true source of your pain. What further sets us apart is that an FM Therapist is willing to assess every tissue and movement pattern to discover that source of pain and the appropriate path to recovery.

Explains Vicky Johnson, "We like to think of the human body as a potential art form. And it's our job to sculpt and model each human body into the most beautiful art form it can be. I can take a scoliotic patient, someone whose spine is twisted and rotated, and help them find their potential, their beautiful art form. It may not look the same as their neighbour, but for them it's going to be their best art form."

If you watch young infants go through normal growth and development, what you see is that they sit, roll and crawl - all very efficiently. But we, as adults, sometimes have lost access to that strategy. The mobility of joints and soft tissues is very important to allow for efficient movement. This training is reinforced with the utilization of a unique Functional Test which demonstrates the importance of efficient mobility and proper alignment.

The ultimate goal of FMT is to provide the individual with the mechanical ability to become self sufficient and more proficient in all areas of human performance. "We see a lot of high-end athletes. We've had marathon runners take as much as forty minutes off their marathon time by being treated with FMT. We've had swimmers take time off their swimming when they compete. We've had ski-racers take time off their racing when they compete because we've treated them with this approach of optimizing the function of their body," says Vicky.

Given that there are less than 200 Certified FM Therapists worldwide, the Johnsons' decision to come to India as their first venture outside the US is therefore opportune indeed. The integrated approach at all levels of care at VARDAN, led by veterans Charles King and Jevene Summers, will also see the utilisation of healing and supporting techniques like Pilates and Yoga. The facilities at VARDAN will include a training area with specialised equipment, where clients can exercise to customised programs under the supervision of an FM Therapist.

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