Functional Movement Screen

As a physical therapist, it’s important to utilize different methods to test a person’s strength, find their imbalances, and correct or adjust any impairments to maximize gains, thereby reducing the risk of injury. The Functional Movement Screen, also known as FMS, is a great tool to assess this with a series of different exercises.

Why FMS?

  • Many of us have a limitation or left versus right side imbalance, even with simple exercises given to us. With these imbalances at just a basic level, it’s likely that they will also affect training, conditioning, competitive events, and other advanced fitness activities which can limit our true potential.
  • FMS will simplify any concept of movement and the effect it has on the body
  • Determine the “weak links” in a person’s movement and provide corrective exercises

Five Key Words in FMS

  1. Communication – Uses very simple language to make it easy for anyone to use, as well as for therapists to communicate progress and future treatment plans
  2. Evaluation – This screen accurately identifies imbalances or limitations without the need for extensive testing
  3. Standardization – Has a functional baseline which is easy for noting advances made and easy for noting progress
  4. Safety – Quickly will identify any dangerous movement patterns to be address right away
  5. Corrective strategies – This test can be used at any fitness level to correct movement patterns and identifies particular exercises based on the individual’s score. This gives a very customized treatment plan to promote great progress

How the FMS is Scored:

  • 0 = If at any point the individual has pain with the exercise
  • 1 = unable to complete the movement pattern or get into the position to perform the exercise
  • 2 = able to complete the movement, but has to compensate in any way
  • 3 = the individual performs the exercise without any compensation

What Exercises are Used for Testing?

  1. Deep squat – assesses bilateral and symmetrical mobility of the hips, knees, and ankles. The dowel used overhead will assess the mobility of the thoracic spine and shoulders.
  2. Hurdle step – assess bilateral mobility and stability of the hips, knees, and ankles
  3. In-line lunge – assess bilateral mobility and stability, along with ankle and knee stability
  4. Shoulder mobility – assess bilateral shoulder range of motion with internal rotation and adduction, followed by external rotation with abduction
  5. Active straight leg raise – assess active hamstring and gastroc/soleus flexibility all while maintaining a stable pelvis
  6. Trunk stability push-up – assess trunk stability in a sagittal plane with a symmetrical upper extremity motion
  7. Rotational stability – used to assess multi-planar stability with a combined upper and lower extremity motion

Below, you will see a photo of examples of the exercises explained above: