25 May Exposing The Importance of The Functional Movement Screen (FMS)


“You can’t put fitness on dysfunction.”  – Physical Therapist, Gray Cook

Have you heard of the expression “fundamentals first?” All top-level coaches, professionals, and experts advocate the simplistic approach of having the fundamentals before anything else. One of the challenges today is that many of us want progress to the next level without having our fundamentals down first. This is a problem. In regards to exercise, this is critically important if we want to minimize our risk for injury.

The number one goal we should all have with an exercise program is to prevent injury. This comes before any goal of fat loss, weight loss, muscle building, or performance enhancement. If you get hurt, then none of those goals even matter because you can’t train.

Now that we have our number one goal established, we must have strong fundamentals in our exercise program. Digging down deeper, we must have sound fundamental movement patterns before we put a fitness program on top of baseline movement. I really hope that makes sense because this is so important in exercise progression.

There is a need to appraise “human movement” with a proven system to precede physical training and performance. Without a quality appraisal and determination of whether baseline movement is acceptable and symmetrical, there is risk for injury.

The Functional Movement Screen (FMS) is the appraisal system. It is essentially a quick and easy way to screen fundamental movement before you train it. If you train with a baseline of a poor quality of movement, the risk for injury is significantly increased. If, however, you correct baseline movement in a methodical corrective exercise strategy prior to advancing performance training, the risk of injury is significantly reduced.

There are three basic outcomes of the FMS:

  1. You will have an acceptable screen after which it is safe to proceed with full activities.
  2. Next, you may have a screen that is not acceptable, but you simply may require a corrective strategy in place before advancing.
  3. Or you may have pain with movement, in which this will require appropriate referral to a health care provider.

It should be noted that just because you have good movement patterns, this does not guarantee you won’t get hurt. It does suggest that the risk is much less than a dysfunctional movement pattern. And, “normal motion” does not mean “normal movement.”


***To read the rest of the article, please visit BreakingMuscle.com where I wrote this article as a guest contributor.

I hope you learned something about the importance of this screen and take action with it in your own training.

Please share this and help educate others is preventing injury by utilizing the FMS.

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  • kettlebell workouts
    Posted at 20:17h, 31 May Reply

    How do you feel the FMS address bio-mechanic issues? For example…If an athlete has very poor hip flexibility, but are athletic enough to still do a particular movement successfully, just with the knee caving in (like on a squat). I ask because at one point in time I was a college basketball player with awful hip internal & external rotation ROM, but could still “do” everything….but this resulted in injury.

    Does the FMS address this type of issue? Recommendations on assessing that type of thing?

    • Scott
      Posted at 16:57h, 01 June Reply

      Great question. This is exactly what the FMS looks at and helps to identify. The thing is, just because an athlete is performing at a top level, there may still be an underlying movement pattern dysfunction, which could increase the risk of injury. The FMS could pick up movement dysfunction (knee caving in, as you mention), but it is not diagnostic.

      Once identified as a “problem” with the FMS, correctives can be put in place to address it. While the FMS is an absolutely fantastic tool, it’s just one piece of the puzzle and would lead to further assessment, as in the case you mention.

      The main thing to remember is that performance doesn’t always translate to normal function. Even high level athletes can have a poor FMS score, which is a problem. The skill is to identify and address it though further assessment and a corrective exercise strategy to reduce the risk for injury. This totally depends on the training and background of a fitness professional in how they use the screen and other assessments.

      The knee “caving in” is usually a motor control problem, as opposed to a hip flexibility issue, in my experience. And, that is usually able to be corrected.

      Hope that helps and a fantastic question!

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