Injury prevention plays a critical role in the success of athletes on a team and those that participate in individual sports.  It becomes difficult for athletes who are not on the field, court, rink, or mat because of injury to achieve their athletic goals.  Identifying individuals who are at risk to being injured and why the risk exists is beneficial to help prevent injuries from occurring.

The Functional Movement Screen (FMS) is an evidence-based exercise philosophy developed by Gray Cook, one of the world’s most respected injury-prevention specialists. According to Cook, the primary cause of athletic injuries is neither weakness nor tightness, but rather muscle imbalance.   Raw strength does not equal functional strength, and ignoring whole-body stability in favor of isolated muscle mass and power is a common mistake made by many.  Individuals who have appropriate muscle movement patterns place their muscles, tendons, and joints at less risk of being injured.

The FMS involves seven fundamental movement patterns that can be evaluated to identify movement limitations and left/right muscle asymmetries.  Each movement pattern is scored base on specific criteria of how the movement is achieved.

The tests are:

1. Squat (Lower Body): Used to assess symmetrical and functional mobility of the hips, knees, and ankles.

2. Hurdle Step (Lower Body): Gauges stability and functional mobility of the hips, knees, and ankles.

3. In-Line Lunge (Lower Body): Used to assess torso, shoulder, hip and ankle stability and mobility, quadriceps flexibility, and knee stability.

4. Shoulder Mobility (Upper Body): Assesses shoulder range of motion as well as shoulder blade mobility.

5. Straight Leg Raiser (Lower Body): Gauges functional hamstring and calf flexibility while maintaining a stable pelvis.

6. Trunk Stability Push-Up (Upper/Lower Body): Used to assess symmetrical core stability.

7. Rotary Stability (Upper/Lower Body): Assesses core stability in combination with upper and lower body mobility.

The FMS has become increasingly used to identify areas of muscle imbalances in athletes throughout the NFL, MLB, NHL, NBA, and military.  The Athletic Trainers and Physical Therapists with St. Francis Physical Therapy have utilized the FMS to screen athletic participants at St. Francis High School.  Once a screening is complete the results are used to develop a plan to address specific weaknesses or imbalances.  It is important to note that the FMS is not a diagnostic test and will not address underlying injury that already exists.

Dustin Eslinger, M.A., ATC
Athletic Trainer
Physical Therapy Consultants, Inc.

April 4th, 2016

Posted In: General

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