What is the Functional Movement Screen?
performed by Christy Siebert. Hair & makeup by Allan Rodriguez, Rae Cosmetics. Shot on location at MOVE Austin Fitness.
Photography by Brian Fitzsimmons
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No matter who you are or what your experience, is there is one thing we can all certainly agree on: Movement dictates the way we live—all day, everyday. Since 1995, the mission of the founders of the Functional Movement Screen (FMS) is for everyone to move well and move often. The founders and now-certified FMS professionals across the globe implement this mission to a span of groups from professional athletes to fitness enthusiasts to rehabilitation clients who need a better focus of return to activity after an injury.
Early in my career, I remember training a young, developing athlete whose parents were looking to give him the best opportunity to make the basketball team. Josh was 15 years old and certainly was not the most naturally gifted athlete, but he was a with the biggest heart who inspired me every time he walked through the door because of his spirit and determination. Certainly a I didn’t want to let down. It turned out Josh really struggled to perform basic squats properly, and other coaches had already inundated him with tons of stretching exercises. Being a young strength and conditioning coach myself in 1998, I was studying many techniques on functional training and movement development to improve my training Techniques. I was trying all kinds of squat variations and functional training exercises in hopes to improve Josh’s squat. If you think about the game of basketball, it is basically a series of explosive squats and dynamic squatting type movements (jumping and athletic stance). It was very slow going and seemed as if we were never going to make progress. At this time, I personally did not know about the FMS.
Fast-forward several years, and many athletes like Josh later, I now understand that Josh probably didn’t have the fundamental prerequisites of mobility and stability to perform a functionally viable squat. From the time I started using the FMS in 2007, I have worked with many similar athletes and fitness clients who have had similar movement roadblocks. By using the systematic approach and feedback of the screen, I can better identify opportunities to address weak links that may be causing poor movement. My heart is in this profession to help people, and good movement can truly change lives and change life experiences and expectations.
What is exactly is the FMS? It is a simple and quantifiable system of seven fundamental movements that are scored and used to identify your current movement ability. The scoring results are then used to direct training decisions to optimize outcomes for all levels of training, fitness or sport goals. FMS lets us know when there is an opportunity to address a weak link in the fundamental movement baseline that will improve your ability to adapt and be more durable in all aspects of training, ultimately cutting a shorter path to your training goals by removing unnecessary roadblocks.
The FMS contains two mobility-biased patterns that allow us to look at lower body mobility and upper body mobility.
Now the order of the movement patterns just discussed are given in the order as they appear in our human developmental sequence. This is in fact the order that is used for corrective strategies to rebuild fundamental movement when a weak link is found by the FMS. But, when you are actually being screened, the order of the FMS is performed for time efficiency and flow of screening by taking you from standing movements to floor-based movements. See the following pages for descriptions and images of the following movements.
1. Deep Squat
2. Hurdle Step
3. Inline Lunge
4. Shoulder Mobility
5. Active Straight Leg Raise
6. Trunk Stability
7. Rotary Stability
The FMS uses a scoring system that takes each movement and applies specific criteria to determine if the movement is in one of four possible categories.
Score of 3 means they have met all the criteria as prescribed with no compensation.
Score of 2 means they completed the movement with compensation.
Score of 1 means they were unable to complete the movement.
Score of 0 indicates there is pain during the movement.
These results are interpreted using the FMS Corrective Algorithm to allow us to determine the best next step for exercise programming and will be used as a continuous tool to direct future training.
Currently, the FMS is a recognized, evidence-based movement screen that follows the mission started by its founders Gray Cook and Lee Burton to first move well, and then move often. And now it supports our mission here in Austin to continually take actions to elevate our fitness community and support active lifestyles of all kinds.
For more information go to functionalmovement.com.
Keep reading to view the functional movements!