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Exercising at 100% efficiency – the FMT way

Jan 12, 2013. The Times Of India

People with all kinds of pain and movement restrictions have achieved optimal mobility and pain-free movement, thanks to the hands-on approach and individualised exercise instruction of Functional Manual Therapy (FMT) at VARDAN

Today, with their bodies aligned and core muscles firing automatically, they are living more efficiently. Now, VARDAN is taking wellness to the next level with SupEx — Supervised Exercises, the FMT way.

As Adam Lindsey Fellow of Functional Manual Therapy at VARDAN puts it, “As a tailor measures you to make a suit or dress that fits exactly, so should your physical therapist design your exercise program to match your current level and build it up as your fitness level improves.” So, rather than the usual ‘one (exer)size fits all’ approach, SupEx offers specially formulated and individually calibrated exercises.

Adds Charles King, Certified Functional Manual Therapist, “It is impossible to separate FMT from corrective, prescriptive exercise. At the very heart of FMT is PNF (Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation), which is a specific hands-on method of muscle recruitment and strengthening. With each of FMT’s techniques, the body is re-educated and strengthened in new positions using exercise in the form of prolonged holds. To do one without the other is almost useless. So, a tailor-made, therapeutic, supervised exercise program is an essential part of the FMT approach.”

An FM therapist can identify which muscles have become inhibited and can give you exercises to retrain the muscles to reduce the risk of recurring injury | KARIN HILFIKER

Karin Hilfiker, the latest FM therapist to join VARDAN, shares “Our stabilizing muscles can become ‘inhibited’, or weakened, in response to an injury or painful episode. Research has shown, for example, that certain muscles in the spine stop firing appropriately after a single episode of back pain and don’t “turn back on” without specific training — this may explain why so many individuals suffer from chronic low back pain”.

Exercises are not simply done to strengthen or stretch a muscle, but must be done in correct alignment to create an automatic core engagement first | CHARLES KING

Local muscles (known as the ‘core’) primarily act to stabilize a body segment while global muscles facilitate movement. Very often, due to injury, poor posture or improper exercise, global muscles become overactive and the local ones weaken. To the untrained eye, it is difficult to determine if an exercise or action is being done improperly — ie, a global (muscle) contraction is not preceded by a local stabilizing initiation.

FM therapists — with their indepth knowledge of anatomy, physiology and current research—are trained to determine this and know how to facilitate it with specific SupEx programs. So, exercising the FMT way starts with aiming to achieve one of three goals: facilitation of core muscles, efficient alignment of the body and a decrease in symptomcausing dysfunctions. Before any movement, stabilizing muscles must contract. Whereas other exercise instructors teach volitional engagement of these core muscles, FMT believes that when the body is optimally aligned and the core has been facilitated, this occurs effortlessly and automatically.

SupEx has several levels. As the exercises are individually supervised, there is constant monitoring, guidance and modification according to the progress made. Crucially, unlike usual gym regimens, SupEx incorporates exercises and movements directly related to each person’s daily activity-related movements as well. Foundation level exercises set the principles that must be carried forward in future exercises and in daily life. Individualised information is provided on how, why and when to use these easy exercises. The second level adds challenges to the foundation, such as altering the body’s relationship to gravity, working on unstable surfaces etc. Next is the integration of full, functional movements and tasks while preserving efficient alignment and core facilitation. Finally, when deemed prudent by the therapist, the patient can even do the exercises independently.

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VARDAN is a Times Group Initiative


  • Without proper posture, core muscles will not activate effectively
  • Exercises that encourage prolonged holds or bracing are the best to activate the core
  • The ideal situation is when the core pre-contracts on its own before an activity, without the individual thinking about doing so
  • Efficient walking is driven by the core and not the legs!
  • Active stretching is more effective that passive stretching
  • Within two weeks of a regular resistance program, there is a gain in strength due to improved signalling from the brain to the muscles. In six weeks, muscle fiber will actually start to grow bigger
  • Having protien immediately after a workout will assist muscle growth
  • Correct postural alignment allows movement and action of the arms to be powered by the legs
  • An elderly person can improve strength through resistance training
  • Strengthening improves function and decreases pain in those who have arthritis of the spine and knees


Two years ago I got vertigo and pains which were misdiagnosed as tension headaches and migraines. Medicines were given accordingly. At the end of one year, my entire right side became weak and I got bulges in the spine. After four months of exercise and physiotherapy, I got worse. I could hardly move and any circular movement made me dizzy. I had a sense of imbalance while walking, driving and other activities of daily living. After more months of futile treatments I read about VARDAN and decided to go there. Their approach and treatment was so totally different! Here, they were clear about why I was in such a state, they told me it was due to a thoracic injury which had occurred many years ago. At the same time, an ear infection had affected my neck muscles, resulting in restricted mobility of cervical soft tissues. So once they released those areas using FMT techniques, and showed me how to strengthen my core muscles and get them to fire properly, I began to improve! They also corrected my sacrum and coccyx dysfunctions. Pain was reduced to just discomfort. In 3-4 months I was doing more activities than I had done in years. And now with SupEx I am maintaining the gains of FMT. Through specific exercises they showed me how to use the correct muscles for each activity, also teaching me what NOT to use. And they calibrated each exercise according to how I performed.

They make the body more efficient — without medicines!


The L4-L5 segments of my spine had protruded and I was reduced to being in a wheelchair all the time. I was prescribed medicines but there was no improvement. Then I came to VARDAN, where my condition was diagnosed as a disc prolapse at L4-L5. Charles, one of the American Therapists, told me that FMT and SupEx can help as much as surgery can, and that gave me great confidence. I was treated with FMT techniques – the disc pressure was reduced by aligning my sacrum, hip bone and tail bone.

I am now on a customised SupEx program for core strengthening and facilitating proper GAIT pattern. After six SupEx sessions I was put onto the Anti-Gravity Treadmill to improve my walking. They have told me to keep walking to strengthen my hip muscles so that I can later use the regular treadmill. From a time when I could not even go to the bathroom on my own, I can do everything myself.

I am happy I can walk now and there is 70-80% improvement in my condition!

My relatives are astonished when I tell them that this improvement has come through physical therapy only!


I am a sportsman and in 1989 I sustained a ligament injury from playing football. But that did not make me give up sports. However, in the last 2-3 years I have been confined to lying down, not even able to turn, let alone get up. Then I read about VARDAN and decided to try it out. There was a problem with my neck and my walk. The FM therapist treated my hip joint and my spine, but it was the one-on-one SupEx sessions that really improved my condition. I have been doing SupEx for four months now, focusing on core and lateral hip muscle strengthening. I am, in fact, more fit now than I was 10 years ago! The therapists at VARDAN are really proficient and their knowledge of the anatomy is superb, so they know exactly how each exercise will help specific parts of the body. The exercises are easy but effective and do not cause any strain at all. The constant supervision also gives me a lot of confidence. The therapists are really communicative and tell me not only about exercises but also the posture needed to do them. They watch all the time and correct me if I am going wrong. No instructor elsewhere is that observant! The VARDAN therapist’s involvement is total!


Ilove travelling and when I developed knee problems I was told to accept it. But I didn’t want to resign myself to the restriction of osteoarthritis and soft tissue degeneration. I tried all sorts of other treatments and then I read about VARDAN. I did some research and the concept made sense, as did the motto — Live Efficient — so I came here. I was told that my ankle, knee and pelvis were not aligned, which was the result of a fall. They corrected the alignment using FMT principles. Thanks to FMT, I got back to using the stairs and walking with both my feet instead of favoring one. My SupEx program includes core and hip strengthening exercises, which has further improved my knee and calf muscles. So much so that I am also doing Pilates and even got back on the cycle. Now I am doing Level 5 on the cycle for 30 mins. The exercises are easy and selected according to individual requirements, in my case they are aimed at improving my walk and my energy levels. I can definitely feel the difference. And as the therapists know my body and limits, I am not afraid of doing whatever they want me to.


Ihad brain haemorrhage 10 years ago; the doctors suspected it was due to an aneurysm. I underwent a major surgery and was on life support systems for 3 months. I came to VARDAN in February 2011 as I had coordination problems. I underwent FMT where they worked on my vestibular system, dural tension, pelvic pattern and mobilised my neck scar. Currently I am on a SupEx program and that has really improved my stability. I am doing balancing exercises on the Swiss ball and core strengthening. The therapists monitor my progress through the week and change the exercises if needed. Earlier my parents used to accompany me when I used to commute. Now I am working and travel on my own. I definitely feel more confident now.


Isuffered a ligament tear in 2009. I was in a cast for three months, and when it came off, I fell – and I kept falling ever since, for no apparent reason. I also had a history of backaches and therapists in London advised closed shoes with inbuilt arches. My alignment was not proper; I felt I was moving to the left while walking. My physical trainers thought my problem was psychological! Then I came to VARDAN and underwent FMT. Ankle ligament instability was causing my falls. My ankle joint alignment was treated for improving efficiency and muscle strength. And my left pelvis, hip and knee were treated as well, which took care of my imbalance. I have stopped falling now. Then I was put on a SupEx program, which included specific exercises to enhance the weight bearing capacity of my foot. First I was given strengthening and stretching exercises. Then I was put onto an Anti-Gravity Treadmill, which allowed me to walk at 60% of my body weight, so that the weight was not on my legs and I could practice walking slowly, in a proper way – heel-toe-heel-toe… the time on the treadmill is increased a little every day. I have now recommended this to five members of my family! It is unique, and truly a VARDAN – a boon!