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Functional Movement Screening Assessment - Treating the Cause, Not Just the Injury

Functional Movement Screening Assessment - Treating the Cause, Not Just the Injury

The Functional Movement Screen (FMS) is a tool to help health care professionals identify injury risk in their patients. Initially, it was used to help athletes improve their game and protect themselves from injury, but it has become widely used to identify dysfunctional movement patterns, weaknesses, and potential sources of future pain in people from all walks of life.

The FMS is not a diagnostic tool, rather, it’s a way to identify physical weaknesses and/or asymmetries. It’s also an opportunity to identify ways to improve movement and reduce the risk for future problems. Lower FMS scores tend to be associated with increased BMI, older age, and decreased activity levels, so increasing your FMS score can keep you in a healthy range.

In order to identify movement deficits, your body needs to be put into positions that challenge your stability. The FMS was designed to test several musculoskeletal systems to spot specific areas of weakness, instability, or asymmetry. By testing these fundamental movements, health care providers will be able to spot current concerns, predict future areas of weakness, and develop tailored exercise programs that will keep your body strong and stable, so you can keep doing the things you love to do without interruption.

Functional Movement Screening Assessment

The FMS is a test of 7 movement patterns that require mobility and stability in specific parts of the body:

  1. Deep squat: Holding a lightweight bar overhead, bend at the knees while keeping your upper body straight. This tests total body mechanics and control and can identify whether one side of your body is weaker than the other side.

  2. Hurdle step: With a lightweight bar across your shoulders, you’ll stepping over a low hurdle to test how well you are able to control locomotion and acceleration. This test is helpful in identifying functional asymmetries.

  3. Inline lunge: This test asks you to lunge forward, with your back knee on the ground and your feet on the same line. Your upper body is straight and forward, with one hand at the small of your back and the other behind your head. This is a test of spine stabilization, and it also tests hip, knee, ankle and foot stability and mobility.

  4. Shoulder mobility: Here, you’ll reach one hand behind your back and the other above your head to see how close your hands come to touching. This test can identify asymmetrical upper body range of motion or thoracic (rib cage) instability.

  5. Active straight leg raise: While laying flat on the floor, you’ll pick one leg up without moving any other part of your body. This test can identify dysfunction in the hip flexors, and it also tests your core strength and symmetry.

  6. Trunk stability push up: This is not a test of upper body strength, rather it tests reflex core stabilization. The goal is to initiate a push up without letting your spine or hips sag. This tests your spine stability.

  7. Rotary stability: This is a complex movement that tests several body systems, including pelvis, core and shoulder stability. Starting on your hands and knees, you’ll stretch your right arm forward and your right leg backwards, then bring them in so your knee and elbow touch.

Each movement pattern is graded on a scale of 0-3 and summed together, for a potential total of 21 points. A score of 0 is given if pain was felt at any point during the movement; 1 is given when the movement cannot be completed but no pain is felt; 2 is given if the movement can be performed with compensation; and 3 if given if the movement can be successfully completed without compensation.

During each movement, the person who is administering the test will measure how far you are able to go in the movement, and they’ll also be looking for signs of compensation. Compensation occurs when you recruit another part of your body to help you complete a movement. For example, if your hips and back drop when you do the trunk stability push up, you’re compensating by reducing the load on your upper body.

Identification of patterns of movement dysfunction and compensation can give your health care provider valuable details about which parts of your body are the strongest, and which parts are the weakest. With this information, they can develop an exercise plan that’s specific to your body’s needs.

The FMS is also a valuable way to see progress and get feedback during a physical therapy program or other exercise program. Being re-screened every 4-6 weeks can help tailor your current exercise regime to make sure it’s addressing the most appropriate issues. Even professional athletes find the FMS to be very helpful as they improve their strength and stability.

The FMS screen can be done at any point throughout your life and is best done before you feel specific pain or discomfort. The FMS is not a diagnostic tool, so it will not be able to tell you why you’re already experiencing pain. What is does tell you is whether you have any potential problem spots that you can address now to minimize your risk for pain in the future.

People who are screened with the FMS and who faithfully carry out the exercise program they are given are not only less likely to feel pain in the future, they also report that they have increased mobility and stability within a couple weeks of starting their exercise regimen. Strengthening your body, even if you don’t have specific pain today, is the best way to make sure you continue to be able to do the things you love to do.

If you want to learn more about how an FMS screen can help you, contact Skye Health to make an appointment. Our experts are experienced in FMS screening for athletes and non-athletes alike, and we can make sure you get the most effective exercise plan to keep you moving pain-free for years to come.

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