Improve Your Foundation with the Functional Movement Screen

by Chris Hughes

The New Year signifies a restart in many aspects of our lives. Most of us are looking to start January 1st with a new attitude in regards to health, fitness, and wellness. The desire to lose weight, eat healthy, exercise regularly or meet a particular health goal is on top of our minds. Some have developed detailed fitness and diet plans while others may need some guidance and motivation. “Fitness is not about being better than someone else, it’s about being better than you used to be.”

Due to our individualism and variation of activity levels and fitness goals many of us need a starting point, a measurement of what needs work. Sure you could start eating salad for lunch and hit the treadmill (which is good of course) but how do you know what movements of the body have actual deficiencies? How do you know that your efforts are not contributing to the potential for injury? The Functional Movement Screen (FMS) is perfect for those in need of direction on a path towards total body fitness.

Going through an FMS as a starting the point to the new and improved you has many benefits. As a total body assessment the FMS is a technical interpretation of body’s movement and potential for injury.  More technically, the FMS is an assessment technique, which attempts to identify imbalances in mobility and stability during fundamental movement patterns. Results predict if one is overcompensating creating subtle movement problems. Dr. Brian Hay DPT, OCS states, “the body chooses the path of least resistance in terms of movement, it (the body) does not self monitor improper movement but you still move all the same.” It is these subtle movement flaws that lead to breakdown in the kinetic linking system (remember the verses from Dem Dry Bones, “the leg bone connected to the hip bone”), causing inefficiency and micro trauma during activity. It could be said in layman’s terms, “You’re doing it wrong!”

The FMS consists of seven movement tests including:

  1. The Deep Squat is a test to challenge total body mechanics when performed properly. This lower extremity test is used to assess symmetry and functional mobility of the hips, knees, and ankles.
  2. The Hurdle Step is designed to challenge the body’s proper stride during a stepping motion. The coordination and stability between the hips and torso are tested during the stepping motion. The hurdle step assesses functional mobility and stability of the hips, knees, and ankles.
  3. The In-line Lunge is a test that places the lower extremity in a scissor position while challenging the body’s trunk and extremities to resist rotation and maintain proper alignment. This test assesses torso, shoulder, hip and ankle mobility and stability, quadriceps flexibility and knee stability.
  4. Shoulder Mobility assesses shoulder range of motion and the ability to move your arm though all planes of motion.
  5. The Active Straight-Leg Raise tests the ability to disassociate the lower extremity while maintaining stability in the torso.
  6. The Trunk Stability Push-Up tests the ability to stabilize the spine in an anterior and posterior plane during a closed-chain upper body movement.
  7. Testing Rotary Stability is a complex movement requiring proper neuromuscular coordination and energy transfer from one segment of the body to another through the torso. Many functional activities require the trunk stabilizers to transfer force asymmetrically from the lower extremities to the upper extremities and vice versa.

A professional who is certified in performing FMSs can guide you to corrective exercises to start increasing your score therefore improving your identified deficiency putting you on-track to improvement. Contact your Physical Therapist, PTA, Kinesiologist or a Personal Trainer that is certified in FMS to get you screened. Getting yourself an FMS in the New Year not only helps you identify where you may have an imbalance it also is an ideal preventative tool for injuries down the line. As you press reset this New Year, consider what you don’t know and what could potentially be preventing you from achieving your fitness goals. “A year from now you’ll wish you started today.”

Christopher Hughes is the Director at Performance Physical Therapy and Fitness Enthusiast. For more information contact [email protected].

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