The thing about functionality is that it isn't so neat and concise as most health measures. There aren't metrics or scores that you can earn. Function is based more on observation and feeling rather than numbers and statistics.
There are a few benchmarks that help us.
The first is pain.
Do you experience any pain or irritation in a typical day?
Do you experience any pain or irritation while working out?
The answer to both of those questions should be no. Pain is not normal and it isn't something we should be ok with.
I know that we've kind of normalized at least a base amount of pain and say things like "that's just how it is now" or "that's just my knee/shoulder/ankle/etc"
BUT we shouldn't have to normalize. We should WANT to get to pain free. That should be the goal. Now, depending on your specific issue, pain free might require medical intervention. That is a different story entirely. But for most of us, who are just trying to be healthy for the long term, any level of pain or irritation should be a red flag that we seek to address.
The next benchmark is movement.
Are there basic movements that you cannot do? Or that you struggle to do? Or you just don't like doing?
If any of those are yes, that's another telltale sign that your function is compromised.
We need to address the limitation as outlined in my previous article.
It is important to note that there is a difference between limitation and weakness. If you can't do a particular movement because a muscle is just weak, that is ok. We can strengthen it. What is important is to understand if the inability is due to weakness or limitation. Again, this stuff isn't super clear and concise. But it's super important to know, especially if your goal is long-term health and fitness.
I'll repeat it again, pain and limitation should not be part of the picture. After getting our foundational health markers to healthy ranges, the next goal should be to fix all functionality issues, including pain and limitations.