The Problem With Functional Movement Screening

21 Oct
Functional Movement Screen

Functional Movement Screen

Movement evaluations, such as the Functional Movement Screen (FMS), attempt to establish a correlation between individuals’ movement patterns and their future risk of injury.

FunctionalMovement.com describes the FMS as “a ranking and grading system that documents movement patterns that are key to normal function. By screening these patterns, the FMS readily identifies functional limitations and asymmetries. These are issues that can reduce the effects of functional training and physical conditioning and distort body awareness.”

The FMS is often associated with rehabilitative and corrective exercise.  “The FMS generates the Functional Movement Screen Score, which is used to target problems and track progress. This scoring system is directly linked to the most beneficial corrective exercises to restore mechanically sound movement patterns.” (http://www.functionalmovement.com/fms)

“However, if individuals adapt their movement behavior in response to the demands of a task, the utility of evaluations comprising only low-demand activities could have limited application with regard to the prediction of future injury,” according to research from the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research. (Frost, et.al.)

Think of it like this:  It’s like taking a race car for a test drive to see how it handles, but only driving 20 miles per hour.  Then you try to predict (and make assumptions and recommendations about) how the car will react and respond (re: performance, safety, crash risk, etc.) in high-speed race conditions, based on your 20 mph test drive.  That low-speed test drive is unlikely to provide much relevant, valid insight into high-speed race conditions.

I’m not trying to discredit the FMS.  On the contrary, in the right context, it can be a useful, science-based tool, especially in restorative (post-injury) situations.  I do, however, agree with the research that low-demand, controlled assessments are not necessarily the best way to assess and predict high-demand performance potential and/or injury risk.  There are too many other variables involved, including (external) load and speed.

“Therefore, movement screens comprising only low-demand activities may not adequately reflect an individual’s capacity, or their risk of injury, and could adversely affect any recommendations that are made for training or performance.” (Frost, et.al.)

Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!

Your thoughts?

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