What is Functional Movement Screens and How are they used with Athletes?

Pre-screening of athletes is common place with the goal to identify those at risk of injury or to identify areas that can be improved in order to enhance performance. Traditional pre-screening is based on performance tests of speed, strength, flexibility and is often sport specific.

The concern with this approach is that it does not look at the quality of the movement or the motor control.  With injury, motor control can be altered and even when the injury is healed the motor control may not have improved and continue as altered movement patterns. Altered motor control can predispose athletes to injury or limit their ability to enhance their performance.

According to the research the only reliable predictor of injury is previous injury. This alludes to the fact that although athletes are being rehabilitated the traditional ways of determining their readiness for return to sport is not working. Assessing only range of motion, strength and flexibility as it relates to their injury is not identifying those with the persistent altered movement patterns. Identifying uncontrolled movement and a potential weak link should be a priority in retraining athletes after injury.

The Functional Movement Screen (FMS) assesses movement patterns, it is a screen of coordinated full body movements. The tests place individuals in positions that stress their stability, mobility and balance and can identify those who use compensatory movements or are asymmetrical from right to left side of their body. This screen was developed by Gray Cook and Lee Burton.

The FMS consists of 7 different movements: squat, hurdle step, lunge, shoulder mobility, active straight leg raise, push up and rotary stability. They are scored from 0-3,  0 is given if there is any pain reported with the movement, 1 is given if they are unable to complete the movement pattern, 2 is given if they can complete the movement but must compensate in some way to do it, 3 is given if they can complete the movement without any compensatory movement. There is also the addition of 3 clearing tests associated with 3 of the tests which if are not passed make the score an automatic 0, the total possible score is 21.

A score of 14/21 or less has been found to be associated with increased risk of injury. Asymmetry on the FMS was found to be associated with a 2-3 increased risk of injury regardless of the overall score.

Training has been found to show improvements in the FMS.

To book an appointment for a Functional Movement Screen or for further information  contact or call 204-253-2165


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