Functional Movement Screen 101 (Part 2)

For more information about the YouTube video, you are going to need to read further into this blog and I will explain what its all about!  Enjoy!
Last week you got a little taste of the pancake portion of the Functional Movement Screen (FMS) exercises and the numerical scoring system that is assigned and why it is so.  Now this week, I’m going to give you the strawberries and syrup, the “why the why,” of the Functional Movement Screen.  I’d like to first start out by saying that pain is the first thing that is being weeded out through this very simple, yet effective, screen.  Remember from last week, 0 is assigned to anyone that suffers pain from the exercise, or from the clearing exam.
Shoulder ImpingementSpine ExtSpine FlexIf I find anyone that scores a 0 in the screen that is a “red flag” and my immediate responsibility is to refer the individual to someone that treats pain.  Gray Cook has said many times that people will seek fitness answers to medical questions.  The two fields are very different, but also very complimentary, and the FMS is a great bridge builder between these two fields!
A couple of scenarios for you to chew on (staying with the pancake and syrup theme):
1. You haven’t been physically active for quite sometime and you decide that some physcial exercise will be good for you – duh!  So, you make your way to your favorite doctor and get cleared for exercise – because we know the almighty recommendation of getting the doctor’s approval before you begin strenuous activities.  Well, the medical professional takes a few vitals, says that most things look decent, but your blood pressure is a little high – however, they believe that exercise will help you to improve that number.  Great news!  Now this doctor did nothing to decide if you were actually physically ready to participate in physcial activity and just pretty much assumes you move well – so go ahead – move often!
Now you are excited and walk through the doors of that gym promising yourself you are going to walk out of the same doors a changed person!  You sign your contract and even get some sessions in with the personal trainer.  This trainer talks about your goals, takes you through some of their tests, and even pinches you to make sure you are just as fat as you look (and this makes you feel extremely uncomfortable!) then sets you up with a program filled with their favorite exercises.  I don’t say this to make fun of personal trainers out there, I say this because I know first-hand what it’s like to be the trainer that does this!  As you go along you notice that its not necessarily soreness you are feeling, but some aches and pains – you decide to chalk it up to being new and starting this different way of living – we must just be working out those kinks.  Well, after some time, you are realizing that those inconvienent pains are not going away and are starting to cause more discomfort, so you find excuses not to go because who really wants to exercise through pain?  You start justifying your times missed and even aren’t concerned about losing out on the money of your final three sessions – you actually talk yourself into being happy about giving away your money to so-and-so for not showing up to a scheduled session because you are sure they are a good trainer … its just maybe you weren’t a good trainee!  With that, we may see you in a few Januarys when you decide its time to start that resolution again to become more physically fit.
2. You go to a clinical setting because you are experiencing pain in any given joint.  The clinician does a battery of tests and realizes that you have x, y, and z.  You go through the arduous and painful treatments to regain the proper mobility so you can move properly again and experience no pain.  Since you are pain-free you can now be care-free, as well, so you go back to your life as is and continue living your life as if nothing happened and no pain ever creeped into your past life.  You fail to recognize that the compensations that landed you into the clinical waiting room on your way to recovery are the same compensations waiting for you in your everyday activities. You got rid of the pain and that is necessary, but you never managed to correct the dysfunctional movement patterns that led the charge to the local neighborhood clinic! So, more than likely, you will become good friends with your clinician and eventually be sending Christmas cards and birthday treats because you will have to continually be visiting the clinic to receive your short-term, pain band-aid!
OK. Those may be some general scenarios and there are always exceptions to every rule, but from what I have seen, this is pretty standard for people that experience pain, or have a dysfunctional movement pattern (even without knowing it). Now let’s run through what could happen if you get introduced to the FMS.
 You get the same doctor’s okay that you are ready to participate in physcial exercise (even with the higher blood pressure) and you walk through those doors of that fitness club with the determintion that you are going to be a changed person!  You sign up with the personal trainer and, oh…what is this?  Your trainer wants to perform a 15-minute functional movement screen on you?  Well, this is new to you – you have never heard of such a thing, but your trainer informs you of what it consists of and how important it is to know how well you move before you start exercising.  Of course, this personal trainer does have a college degree, has some certificiations…so you decide to go through this screen and boy, are you glad you did!  
Situation #1 – Your trainer found out you have pain when you went through the spine extension clearing exam.  This raises some concern, so he/she refers you to the nearest clinician to get that checked out.  You take the advice and start therapy/treatment/care and this whole time while under the care of a clinician you can still get going with your trainer and begin your journey towards better physcial fitness.  Once you are cleared by the clinician from pain, your fitness professional runs you through the screen again and finds that even though you do not have pain anymore – you score a 1 on your Active Straight Leg Raise (hip mobility).  You both work hard to increase mobility in your hips via your exercise programs and you eventually score all 2s on the screen with no asymmetry and live happily ever after!
Situation #2 – Your trainer found out that you had some dysfunctional movement patterns in the screen (score of 1 or asymmetry).  With this knowledge, that cannot be ascertained anywhere else, your trainer designs a program for you that will help to correct your dysfunctional movement patterns and at the same time makes sure to avoid those exercises that will reinforce your bad movement patterns.  You both kick some dyfunctional butt through your exercise programs (you even get some home-work to take care of outside the gym setting) and you realize that some of those aches and pains that you once thought were just a part of aging have started to decrease, or fully disappear.  You eventually score all 2s on the screen with no asymmetry and live happily ever after!
Situation #3 – Your trainer finds out that you have a score of all 2s with no asymmetries!  After discussing with you your results and what it meant to go through this screen you find a new level of respect for this particular trainer and fitness.  You decide to hire this trainer anyway and after awhile start sending Christmas cards and birthday treats because of this friendship that has developed and live happily ever after!
Situation #4 – After going through extensive therapy/rehab to eliminate the pain you had in your shoulder area, the clinician refers you to the nearest FMS certified fitness professional to screen you and design a program that will assist you in cleaning up your dysfunctional movement patterns.  You do so and your trainer finds that you have an asymmetry with your left and right shoulder mobility screen.  The program is awesome, your trainer is awesome, everything is awesome!  Even though the workouts are challenging, there is an element of fun and meaning because the common goal is to make you move better.  Your asymmetry eventually becomes symmetrical, you still visit your clinician because they know what they are doing and you want to be assured annually that everything is where it needs to be, and guess what?  You live happily ever after!
Now these situations may sound a little cheeky, but there is a lot of truth in what you just read.  I have made the FMS sound fantastic and a cure-all; even though it is fantastic – it is not a cure-all.  You have to remember that it is a functional movement screen and nothing more.  Your certified FMS person cannot diagnose that you have a problem with your rectus femoris, piriformis, or transformis (it’s more than meets the eye) if you score a one in the deep squat; all we am allowed to say is you have a one on your deep squat.  Its actually cool because it makes my job that much more simple … I don’t have to pretend to be anyone else, except the fitness professional.  Included in the FMS is a heirarchy that lays out what patterns need to be addressed and cleaned up first before moving on to the next step.  For instance, the two mobility screens (hips and shoulders) are the first place I start when setting up a workout for you.  Are they both 2s with no asymmetries?  If not, we have to spend some time getting that taken care of, and we don’t use the entire workout to target only your immobile hips and/or shoulders we get after the other goals you came to see me about, too!  If we find out that they are 2s with no asymmetries, then we move up the ladder and see what is the next pattern to clean up.  The ultimate goal is to find you with a score of at least 14 with no 1s, or asymmetries.  When that is accomplished, I can feel confident that your movement quality is up to par and you will be at no serious risk to exercise from a movement point of view.
I am confident that the rolling in the above video can pretty much correct and improve any of these movement scores!  So, to help explain the video at top and why I added it, check out my top 10 reasons I roll (and why you should, too) at Facebook.  If you haven’t liked the page yet – do so and tell all of your friends and family about it!