Enter The Functional Movement Screen

I’ve been attending the Perform Better Summits every June in Chicago for five years now and I’ve always been there for the pre-conference and heard the same speaker talk about the same topic every year. My takeaway each June was, ‘I like his presentation, he’s a real genuine and funny guy, and his message is good (heck, it even makes sense)…however, it’s not for me and what I do.’

The functional movement screen, simple and effective
The functional movement screen, simple and effective

These were not my first encounters with Gray Cook and the Functional Movement Screen (FMS). In 2001, I had an internship where the FMS was presented to the strength and conditioning staff and there was plenty of reading to go along with it (I, as the intern was not cool enough for the presentation, but I was able to peruse  through the material). The people in charge decided not to move forward with Gray and Co.’s brainchild, but the seed was planted in my mind.  So, from that time until my first Perform Better Summit in 2009, I had seen Gray and the FMS in so many of the articles I read and catalogs I looked at.  The FMS and Gray Cook were always there and I was reading what he was putting out…again, enjoying what he had to say, but always telling myself, ‘its not for me and what I do.’

Why, oh why, was this day any different than the previous four years of listening to Gray Cook talking about the FMS?  Everything he was preaching about was the same…however, tweaked: seven screen exercises, people’s asymmetries, species-specific…blah, blah, BLAH!  One thing I know was that the previous four years before, I would get pumped-up about what Gray would say and then I would go through hours of other presenters’ discussions getting filled with their advice and then hands-on workshops to learn some fancy, sexy new exercises to incorporate into my system, and by Monday morning it was what was the easiest to apply that survived the arduous weekend.  It’s not that the FMS was weak on the scale of things learned, it was that it seemed to take the most effort, and the thought of bringing home the FMS, and all its baggage, with an ever-changing, part-time staff of college students seemed daunting!

If this was biblical, I would have been knocked to the ground this day in 2013, asking myself, ‘why shouldn’t I?’  It seemed that the moon and all the stars were aligned for me and the FMS at this time: for the first time in eight years I was going to go from three part-time UW – La Crosse students to one full-time employee, Alwyn Cosgrove did a great job during the pre-con of explaining how to take the FMS message over the weekend and apply it on Monday morning, and I had an extremely honest moment with myself!

I want to say that other fitness professionals suffer (or have suffered) from this thing I will call…”what I do is right and everyone else is wrong, so the hell with anything that threatens to change the status quo!”  And that, in a nutshell, is what the FMS will do – change the status quo! I liked my own personal fitness box where I was comfortable with what I was doing and there were rarely any surprises. But now I was ready to face the fact that what I had been doing in the past may not have been wrong, but could have been done a whole lot better.

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Photo: cultureclub.com

So, this is where I am at…the Functional Movement Screen has become my tesseract.  It is the center of my entire professional life; it tells me all I need to know and what exercises to recommend and what ones to avoid. I am able to use this road map to give individuals an effective exercise selection to clean up any dysfunction they may have in their movement patterns.  For the first time in my career I am able to have an objective protocol to follow and actually help people move well.  I can promise that there will be more posts about the FMS and the benefits, but until then…keep on rolling (no seriously, get on the ground and roll)!