Two weeks ago I attended the Institute of Functional Medicine’s (IFM) Clinical Nutrition Course in Denver, Colorado. This is about my experience, the take a ways, and how I plan on applying the tools learned to my training practice. My hope is by reading this blog, you’ll be inspired to not only look into IFM, but will have a new way of looking in the mirror.
The course was very challenging considering I was an exercise professional in a group of 195 nutritional and medical professionals. Having the anatomy, physiology, and biochemistry background equivalent to the nutritionists, I was able to hang in there with all the talk of food, and phytochemicals. The tools of a functional medicine screening exam are similar to those used by highly educated strength & conditioning coaches, and personal trainers. We look back at the client’s past and present to create a program to take them into the future.
There were 3 main take a ways from this adventure into the functional medicine world:
1. I was invited to assist in the mockup functional medicine screening room. There were several stations, Anthropometric measurements, Bio-impedance Analysis (BIA) & Pulse Oximetry, Vibratory and Touch sensory assessment. I was responsible for leading the BIA section for 2 days. This was an amazing experience because I got to learn about some tools that I currently don’t use but after this I’ll definitely be implementing.
I currently use BIA for body composition, but taking the time to teach someone how to do it, while explaining to a client/patient what we’re doing at the exact same time, over and over again for 6 total hours, made me realize that as and exercise professional we look at things much differently than nutritional and medical professionals. I know that they both have their separate ways as well.
The vibratory and touch assessment can be used as a way of not only assessing the client/patients’ vibratory and sensory perception in their extremities, but as a way of teaching the client to activate their mindfulness while executing simple movement assessments, I plan on utilizing these tools to improve squat and pushup technique.
2. The major tool taught and used throughout the weekend was the functional medicine matrix. A simple yet complex tool that took the client’s past, placed it on a time line, for the professional and client to take a ride down memory lane to see where life has been healthy, and life has not been so healthy.
As I’m sitting in the audience learning, I’m realizing that in the context of this course they’re applying it to chronic illness, and nutritional status. The question I sat with as I’m watching this is how am I going to apply it to my strength and conditioning practice? It’s simple! Go back into my athletes past, and we’ll find the source of recurring injuries, pains, time of life where there has been a decrease in performance, family history with athletics…and so on! I’ll even go into nutritional status and medical history so that when communicating with their health and nutritional professionals, we’ll all be on the same page.
3. The functional medicine world will benefit from us exercise professionals embracing the paradigm shift from medication first to functional medicine by making us a crucial part in getting the world in motion. We have the understanding, and desire to turn exercise into physical activity, and physical activity into fun games (races, sports, events). By understanding the various modes of exercise (energy systems, training modalities, etc…) we’re able to communicate the various nutritional needs associated with different training styles.
Thank you for taking the time to read my blog. I sincerely hope as professionals working to create a healthy world we can all work together compliment each others’ practices.