Evaluating Movement Patterns – FMS and You

By Ann Brooks, CPT, NASM

Meet John Doe, an active 50-year-old businessman with a wife and 3 children, who enjoys many different recreational activities and runs 3 times a week a minimum of 3 miles at a time. Recently, he has had some pain in his hips and developed plantar fasciitis. Now this pain limits his ability to enjoy his active pleasures and even gets in the way of his active time with his wife and children. He decided it was probably over-use and has taken time off to rest and heal but isn’t seeing much improvement after three weeks. Is it time to seek medical advice and possibly physical therapy? Maybe. But it may also be time to re-evaluate his movement patterns.

When we are born we enter the world limber and symmetrical. We move efficiently and without limitations. But over time, we develop muscle imbalances and asymmetries, which can make us less efficient and more prone to injury. Think of a car with a wheel that is out of alignment. You can still drive it but eventually there will be additional wear and tear on other parts of the car due to the misalignment.

Enter the Functional Movement Screen (FMS). The FMS is a ranking or grading system for functional movement patterns that are key to normal function that can be applied at any fitness level. It was developed in 1997 by Gray Cook and Lee Burton. Their work and ideas are at the forefront of fitness, conditioning, injury prevention and rehabilitation. The FMS is comprised of 7 movement tests that require a balance of mobility and stability. The patterns used provide observable performance of basic, manipulative and stabilizing movements by placing the client in a positions where weaknesses, imbalances, asymmetries and limitations become noticeable by a trained health or fitness professional. The FMS may expose dysfunction or pain or both within basic movement patterns. It is not intended to determine why this dysfunctional pattern exists, but to discover which patterns are problematic and then work to correct the movement pattern with corrective exercises. Exercise programs developed after an FMS are highly individualized and reinforce proper movement patterns leading to decreased pain and increased ease of movement.

Now back to our John Doe. Mr. Doe decided to try the FMS. He contacted a local FMS professional who would do the screening. Mr. Doe was evaluated in the 7 movement tests. Each movement was scored on a scale of 0 to 3. John Doe gets three points if he can perform a deep squat, hurdle step, inline lunge, lying leg lift, trunk stability push-up, rotary stability, or shoulder mobility test without any “compensatory” movements, such as becoming knock-kneed while squatting. Moderate compensatory movements earn two points. If he can’t do the movement right at all, he gets one point, and any pain merits a zero. John Doe scored a 1 on his deep squat, 2 on the hurdle step, 2 on the in line lunge, lying leg lift, 2 on the trunk stability push-up, 2 on the rotary stability and 3 on the shoulder mobility. This gives him a score of 13. This FMS showed significant limitations in movement patterns in the deep squat and lying leg lift. The instability or lack of mobility in the squatting pattern and lying leg lift will cause inappropriate use of certain muscles to perform both athletic and daily activities. This instability and lack of mobility could be causing the symptoms Mr. Doe is experiencing in his hips and feet. The focus of Mr. Doe’s functional exercise program will be corrective exercise to improve these limitations. Such exercises as assisted hip mobility stretches, squat progressions, calf flexibility, and self-myofascial release will begin to correct the compensatory movement patterns seen in his screening.

After 6 weeks of regular exercise 3 times a week, including his corrective exercises, John Doe was rescreened and now scored a 2 on his deep squat, a two on his lying leg lift, and a 3 on his inline lunge. He now has significantly less pain in his hips and the plantar fasciitis has resolved. He is now back to enjoying his regular activities and feeling much better and has more energy.

Note: The FMS is not intended to evaluate injury, or take the place of professional medical advice or treatment for injuries. It is simply a way to evaluate functional movements and provide recommendations for corrective exercises.

To locate your nearest FMS professional go to www.functionalmovement.com or come check us out at LiveWELL Training Club. We offer a free screening with a 30 day trial membership that will get you well on your way to moving better and feeling better in no time!



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