Functional Range Assessment – A mind positively altering experience!

This past weekend I had the absolute pleasure to attend a seminar called Functional Range Assessment by Functional Anatomy Seminars created by Dr Andreo Spina. The lecturers were Dr Michael Chivers and Michael Ranfone who were both inspirational as well as superbly knowledgeable on the subject. This seminar was to offer an assessment tool for immediate use in the office, which it provided but the other benefits I received from the course were far greater than I could have imagined.

I left Toronto inspired, in flow driving down the 401 (highway) towards my family full of ideas and connections I had not made previously along with a deep understanding of systems theory, dynamic systems theory and many other concepts vital to my health care career. I used a voice memo and talked for almost an hour all the way to Kitchener about human health, optimal health and made connections with my recent learning in functional medicine (2 year Masters from Western States) that solidified my thinking, framework for my career path in the future.

The FRA or assessment taught this weekend provides me a framework to directly assess joint health, dysfunction or compensations and function of the nervous system as it relates to musculoskeletal health. The FRA focuses us on the specific ranges of motion allotted to each joint alone and within the context of the body as a system affected by our central nervous system. We spoke about systems one (automatic) and systems two thinking (analytical) and how so many of us (myself included) fall into the trap automatic system 1 so often when we are assessing patients. ‘We are often blind to our own blindness’ (Chivers, 2017). To provide real assessment, quality care we must engage our analytical system 2 to provide us with specific outcomes that then lead us down a specific path of treatment and rehabilitation. The assessment as taught was to provide us with:

  1. Context or a reason why you are doing the assessment
  2. Efficiently and accurately give info about the part examined
  3. Reduce our need for any subjectivity (reducing subjectivity improves accuracy).
  4. Simplicity – to provide a way to break down the complex structure that is the human frame and biomechanics
  5. To look at component parts and understand function and movement capacity.

Humans are an example of a complex adaptive system meaning we are self organising, continuously evolving, run on feedback loops, are non-linear, display emergent behaviour and have no central controller (Chivers, 2017). Although the idea that we do not have a central controller might sound strange to us it is true our bodies do not ask of our central nervous system for permissions to change hormones, to induce autophagy (clear old, dying cells), lay down collagen fibers etc. Our system is a complex one that has many internal adaptive mechanisms allowing us to function optimally, adapt when needed and evolve. Chivers quoted Iverson & Thelen (1999) stating that human movement is dynamic and can be thought of as a stream, continuously flowing and continuously changing which is true for our entire human system. We are constantly flowing and changing to be the best, to deal with stressors and to adapt to our environmental influences.

The functional anatomy seminars system as a whole includes functional range release, functional range conditioning and functional range assessment which provide framework for assessing, treating and improving mobility of humans. Our ultimate goal as therapists and trainers is to create better options for movement capacity – to allow our bodies to better engage and respond to our environment. If your system has a large movement capacity, then the risk of injury lowers and our ability to absorb external loads increases. This applies not only to movement health but also on a bigger scale of human health to all parts of our complex system. If one improves the capacity of our digestive, psychological, detoxification, hormonal, emotional, mental and musculoskeletal systems we can raise the capacity of the system to adapt to external influences at any level. We should be striving to make ourselves as resilient, adaptable and ‘unfuckworthy’ as possible (Lakhani, 2016).

I applaud Dr Spina, Dr Chivers, Dr Saratsiotis, Michael Ranfone, and all the team at functional anatomy seminars for their dedication to educating health care professionals and trainers and for setting the bar high where it should be in our understanding of musculoskeletal health. I am so honoured and excited to start assessing people with the functional range assessment it is a specific, structured tool that will provide me with real feedback on the health, capacity and movement capability of humans I will see in my practice. By Nicole Paine, Owner of Live Free, Chiropractor, Acupuncture, FRCms, FR Upper & Lower, Kinstretch – to learn more about Nicole visit her profile.


Chivers, M and Ranfone, M (2017). Lectures at Functional Range Assessment, Toronto, Canada.

Functional Anatomy Seminars:

Iverson, J.M. and Thelen, E. (1999). Hand, mouth and brain. The dynamic emergence of speech and gesture. Journal of Consciousness Studies, 6(11-12), 19-40.

Lakhani, V. (2016). The code of the extraordinary mind. Rondale Wellness Inc., New York, USA.