Twitter Facebook YouTube Instagram

Physical Functional Assessments

Active Aims’ physical functional assessments here at our Loughborough clinic provide you with an overview of some key elements of optimal physical function. The clinician delivering this assessment is not a doctor or GP but an exercise physiologist.

Physical Function

In today’s environment it is common to see altered movement patterns, which may have a number of root causes: repetitive movements and long periods of sitting are two good examples. However, once we have dysfunction in one part of the human movement system then there is often a knock-on effect to other areas of movement. Once movement patterns are dysfunctional, muscles become out of balance, and as one set of muscles become tight, the opposite ones often weak, resulting in injury.

Part of our functional assessment is to test your movement. This is a series of simple tests which highlight any muscles which maybe tight and those which maybe weak.

Overhead Squat:

The client is asked to perform a squat to about the height of a chair, with their arms extended above their head. It is important to observe any movement dysfunction from the feet up. The clinician pays attention to foot movement, knee movement and hip movement. If there are any dysfunctional movements in the lower-body extremities then these are noted. The patient may be asked to stand with their heels elevated to see if the movement corrects itself. This will give the practitioner a good idea of where the malfunction is rooted: in the ankle and foot, or at the hip.

The clinician will also observe the movement of the upper body. The image adjacent demonstrates very well how the trunk can be presented during an overhead squat. Arms falling forward, lower back arching or rounding all show signs of over-tight and weak muscles, which affect proper movement.

We also test for shoulder mobility and core strength.

Blood Pressure and Pulse Rate

When your heat beats, it contracts and pushes blood through the arteries to the rest of your body. This force creates pressure on the arteries. This is called systolic blood pressure.

A normal systolic blood pressure is 120 or below, although the normal pressure for older adults rises with age. A systolic blood pressure of 120-139 means you have normal blood pressure that is higher than ideal, or borderline high blood pressure. Systolic blood pressure number of 140 or higher is considered to be hypertension, or high blood pressure and an increased risk of heart disease.

The diastolic blood pressure number or the bottom number indicates the pressure in the arteries when the heart rests between beats.

A normal diastolic blood pressure number is 80 or less. A diastolic blood pressure between 80 and 89 is normal but higher than ideal.

A diastolic blood pressure number of 90 or higher is considered to be hypertension or high blood pressure.

Blood Pressure

Normal blood pressure is usually in the range of 120/80 mmHg (systolic/diastolic). In healthy people, especially athletes, low blood pressure is a sign of good cardiovascular (heart and blood vessel) health. But low blood pressure can be a sign of an underlying problem – especially in elderly people – where it may cause inadequate blood flow to the heart, brain and other vital organs.

Resting pulse rate is taken to give some idea about the strength of your heart, if appropriate we will test for heart rate response to mild exertion.

Since Loughborough is renown for its health education, we will ensure that you understand every aspect of your health check.

Lung Function

    • Peak flow test: this measures the fastest speed you can blow out. To do the test you take the biggest breath in that you can and then blow out as fast as you can. The results are useful in diagnosing asthma, this is a common disease which affects about 5 million people in the UK. Asthma affects the airways which become irritated in some situations. The airways become narrower and sometimes produce more mucus than usual, making it difficult to breathe.

Lung Function

  • Spirometry test: this measures your FEV1 – which is how much air you can expel from your lungs in the first second of breathing out. It can help tell whether your breathing is obstructed by narrowing of the bronchial tubes (as found in asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)). The FEV1 is useful in diagnosing COPD, telling how severe it is and how it might develop.
  • Lung Age: This test is especially useful for smokers or people who live in the city, showing the biological age of your lungs compared to your chronological age.

Flexibility and Mobility

Mobility is the range of movement around a joint and flexibility is the movement of the muscles and tendons that allow the joint to move freely. The overhead squat test does provide a good test for mobility, we also frequently use a shoulder mobility test standing against the wall.

Flexibility is important for everybody: a good range of movement prevents injury, improves sports performance and enhances the ability of older adults to perform daily tasks.


We often take balance for granted, but for many this attribute can be improved, giving you more control in your sport and everyday life.

Sports require balance, agility and control, kicking or hitting a ball when you are off balance results in lack of control and misdirection of the shot. If you find that fluffing a skill is a reoccurring theme; think about strengthening our core muscles and adding agility programmes to your workout.

Older adults also frequently lose balance and tasks like climbing the stairs, gardening or household chores can become a danger area for falling.

With practice the confidence and motor skills we require for balancing will improve. A combination of increasing overall strength, flexibility and balance will help older adults remain independent for longer.

Fat Percentage and Lean Tissue

Just like any other community in the UK, many of the Loughborough population are overweight or obese.

Obesity and excess weight are common issues for many people, however it is helpful to distinguish between fat tissue and lean tissue. Losing weight per se may not achieve better health or better body shape. Strict diets generally focus only on weight loss unfortunately most of this weight is likely to be lean muscle tissue and not necessarily fat tissue. Lean tissue weighs heavier than fat, therefore when you stand on the scales they will read lighter; keeping this weight off will be difficult as it is almost impossible to sustain a fad diet.

Fat Percentage and Lean Tissue

There are also several good reasons for retaining muscle mass, it provides shape and strength, additionally muscle is metabolic so it burns calories as it lives on your body. Fat is dead tissue and just sits on your body requiring no calories at all.

Waist: Hip Ratio

The waist: hip ratio is used to assess the amount of adipose (fat) tissue stored in the torso. It is widely considered that a larger waist than hip measurement increases the risk of heart disease, primarily because fat is deposited around vital organs.

It should be noted that the development of heart disease is increased as a number of risk factors associated with the disease accumulate, this might be being overweight, sedentary, adipose tissue stored in the torso, stress, poor diet etc.

Lifestyle Analysis

Loughborough is a lively and vibrant place, let us take the opportunity to see how you manage your lifestyle.

To ensure that we understand as much as possible about your overall health we also ask questions about your lifestyle; which provides an overview of how you manage your life including, sleep patterns, alcohol consumption, diet, fluid intake, mood, social interaction, relaxation, activity and exercise.

This analysis is detailed enough to help us to identify patterns which may contribute towards positive and negative health.

Lifestyle, habits and behavioural information helps to draw a picture about your health; if in addition we examine your stress responses and functional test results you will be able to recognise your psychological and physiological profile.

Stress Responses

The hard-working business people of Loughborough probably need to manage mindset!

Wellbeing is a combination of physical and mental health and the way that we handle pressure can also impact on our overall health. Personal perception of pressure is unique for everyone, a situation which causes a stress response in one personal might not affect another and vice versa.

Stress responses are displayed in a number of disguises from behavioural, to psychological or physiological. Responses vary from person to person as do the causes.

This part of the health assessment explores how you deal and respond to pressure.

This information will enable us to identify and discuss with you where your wellbeing can be improved, additionally it will highlight habits and behaviours which have a negative impact on health.

For more information please call Loughborough (01509) 437765