The Functional Movement Screen

Personally written by Dr. Milan Lassiter, 1303 W. Main St, Richmond, VA 23220.  Contact us at (804) 254-5765 for your FMS assessment.FMS-Pictures

The FMS (Functional Movement Screen) is a series of 7 screening assessments. It’s efficient and powerful enough that it has been used for years as part of the physical assessment at the NFL scouting combine in order to screen potential players.

The FMS can detect limitations in our ability to perform basic movements, reveal imbalances from side to side, and identify risk for future injury. It is also used to identify areas that can be improved upon for better performance. The test is made up of 7 different movement patterns:  (1) Squatting (2) Stepping (3) Lunging (4) Reaching (5) Leg Raising (6) Push Ups (7) Rotating. Each of these patterns have specific criteria that has to be met and a score is given accordingly. It’s basically a series of tests that you pass or fail.

In real life we move in patterns.  In other words, we don’t just bend the knee…instead we bend the knee while also bending at the hips and ankle, simultaneously moving our torso, balancing with our arms, and shifting our weight with subtle movements made all the way from our neck to our toes. The FMS is a screen for movement patterns, not individual joints or areas.  Instead of assessing parts, the FMS assesses patterns, which is actually the way the body moves in real life.  The FMS leads us to the weakest link in the chain within these patterns.

The FMS is a rating and ranking system, sort of like getting a grade in school (an A or an F). However, with the FMS test, the grade is from a 3 to a 0.  Getting a 3 or 2 is a pass, while a 1 or a 0 is a fail.

3 = Optimal (perfect execution of a movement pattern)

2 = Acceptable (some compensation is occurring)

1 = dysfunctional (unable to perform the movement, which will lead to the clinical assessment called the SFMA)

0 = Pain (a movement pattern produces pain, which will also lead to the SFMA)

When pain is discovered upon an FMS test, it should be assessed by a clinician who can perform something called an SFMA (Selective Functional Movement Assessment).  I will write about this in another blog at a later time, but suffice to say that it’s an amazing tool and, in my opinion, you should look for physical therapists, chiropractors, or even MD’s, who can perform an SFMA if you are injured or have pain upon movement. I am in the process of being certified and will be ready to do the SFMA soon.

There is a standardized screening system for the risk of cardiovascular and heart disease (ie: checking for high blood pressure, cholesterol, and triglycerides and screening for whether or not they smoke, what they eat, whether they exercise or are overweight, etc). It doesn’t matter where you go, these same parameters are going to be screened.  However, we don’t have anything like this standardized screening assessment for exercise, athletic performance, pain upon movement, or musculoskeletal problems. The FMS is a standardized test that is used to quickly assess the way that we move.

When an assessment is performed to screen for cardiovascular disease, a person can have no symptoms or complaints, yet still find out they have high cholesterol or high blood pressure. This puts them at high risk for a potential heart attack or stroke. By intervening and making changes, that person can be saved from something serious or even deadly.

Similarly, the FMS is a risk assessment tool that uses either specific intervention exercises or therapies to save a person from future injury, pain, impaired movement, and performance deterioration. If the assessment comes up decent, but not perfect, it can also be used to enhance the way someone moves…in other words moving them from mediocre, to good, to great. That can only be beneficial for anyone, whether you’re a carpenter who has to do heavy manual labor or a recreational, but competitive tri-athlete.

This is how the pros are being assessed these days.

In our office, you don’t need to be a pro-athlete to be treated like one!

Dr. Lassiter

Author Dr. Lassiter

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