Applied Functional Science

Recently I’ve started studying an approach to health called Applied Functional Science. I became interested in this philosophy after meeting Rachael and Matt from Everything’s Connected Osteopathy in Camberwell.

For me it fills in a lot of the gaps in both the thinking behind and practical application of other methods of movement training, exercise and hands on treatment. One of the key components in AFS is 3 Dimensional movement.

I asked Matt and Rachael to explain this concept:



We spend the first few years of our lives learning the basics of human movement through trial and error. First mastering eye and neck movements before progressing to rolling, sitting, crawling and eventually kneeling and standing. Each of these phases requires a certain level of mobility, co-ordination and strength in order to progress to the next level. The human body achieves this by moving as a unit, with many of our joints and muscles needing to move in multiple directions.

Whenever we move, our joints always go through the three planes of movement:

Sagittal plane

Frontal plane

Transverse plane

Unfortunately we are slowly undoing all this good work, as we fall victim to our modern way of living which involves prolonged periods of sitting. Our daily tasks and exercise programs now focus largely on sagittal (forwards and backward) movement only.

In order to get back to what nature intended and improve our flexibility, strength and fitness we need to incorporate movements in all three planes. For example we commonly perform lunges to the front, but we also need to do them to the side or with a rotation. This conditions the joints for the movements they need to do in real life situations. The additional planes also adds variability to our routine and decreases our chance of injury.

Once you have taught your body to move in all three planes, you can then progress to increasing strength and fitness.