Functional Movement Screen: Improve Your Sport Performance and Lower your Injury Risk

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Deep squat, hurdle step, inline lunge, shoulder mobility, leg raise, pushup and rotary stability: The Functional Movement Screen (FMS®) is a seven point test to help you get your game on!

Written J. Michael Burke, Doctor of Chiropractic


Summer is a time when most of us become more active. Even if you’ve been busy during the winter, skiing, biking, running and summer affords many more opportunities to get your game on. But don’t increase your risk of being injured as you become more active. When your musculoskeletal system is functioning optimally you will feel better, move better, and will be less likely to get hurt.

But how do you know if you’re functioning at your best? Traditional methods of evaluating fitness may not cover all the bases. There is a large and often overlooked gray area between a routine physical exam, on the one hand, and physical performance testing for fitness and conditioning on the other. Your doctor can check your blood pressure, listen to your heart and lung sounds, and send you to the lab for blood tests to determine if you can participate safely in a sport. You can then prepare for a sport by improving your cardiovascular endurance, train with weights to increase strength, and perform drills to improve agility. And, of course, you play, play, play your game.

But what may be missing is your ability to perform basic movement patterns, which can cause fundamental movement dysfunctions. Basic movement patterns have to do with the balance between mobility and stability. This type of imbalance can result in compensatory movement patterns: using muscles inappropriately or excessively to make up for weaker muscles. Too much mobility or incorrect stabilization strategies are risk factors for injury. Basic movement patterns can be compromised by muscle imbalances, asymmetrical movement habits, improper training methods, and incomplete recovery from an injury. The absence of pain or other symptoms does not guarantee your basic movement patterns are normal.

The Functional Movement Screen (FMS®), developed by Gray Cook, a physical therapist, evaluates movements that are essential to normal function. The screen consists of seven tests:

  • deep squat
  • hurdle step
  • inline lunge
  • shoulder mobility
  • active straight leg raise
  • trunk stability pushup
  • rotary stability

Your score on the FMS® determines which corrective exercises will help to restore mechanically sound movement patterns and build strength. Working on basic movement patterns does not necessarily precede working on physical capacity and performance; they are complementary.

Establishing normal basic movement patterns helps create an injury buffer zone. Absolutely perfect movement is not necessary, but fundamental minimums are imperative.

Interested? Book a session with one of our Chiropractors.