Functional Movement Screen (FMS): Why is it important?

May 22, 2017 | By: Raleigh Orthopaedic Team

Written by: Walker Cruikshank, CSCS

The Functional Movement Screen (FMS) has been around for nearly 20 years now.  It is comprised of seven fundamental body weight movements that are subsequently scored on a scale of 0-3.  Much research has been conducted looking at the effectiveness of the screen.  Many have utilized the screen as a means to try and predict and prevent injuries from happening.  Is it even possible to think that fitness professional can predict and prevent injuries from happening?  There is no doubt that human movement is complex, but that doesn’t mean that a screening process has to be.  Here are a few reasons why movement screening is important before starting an exercise program, sport, or other physical activity.

  1.   A score of 0 is assigned to a person that has pain within a movement pattern.  That person should then be referred to a licensed professional that can further investigate how and why that pain exists.  In the meantime, it means that pattern should not be trained or have a load put on top of it.
  2. Basic competency. We must be able to move well before we move often.  It doesn’t work the other way around.  A score of a “1” is given for a movement that cannot be done according to the criteria.  A “2” in given for a movement that is accomplished with some compensation, while a score of “3” means the movement is accomplished without any compensation.   If someone has a “1” then that movement should not be given load until it is fixed.  Adding weight will probably exacerbate the issue or lead to injury at some point.  A corrective strategy should then be looked into at that point.
  3. Humans are asymmetrical by nature.  From the arrangement of our internal organs all the way to our fingertips everyone is going to have some asymmetry.  A functional asymmetry on the other hand could potentially be a problem.  For example, if a long distance runner can balance well on one leg, but not the other leg, that issue could manifest itself into an injury when multiplied by thousands of strides over and over again.
  4. Setting a baseline. You have to start somewhere.  Getting objective feedback throughout the process can be crucial in terms of programming by determining what are the individuals strengths and weaknesses, as well as what might be the limiting factor for improvement.  That baseline can then be referred back to at a later point to check if something has changed.  If the persons movement baseline was fine to begin with, then checking back to make sure a program and/or lifestyle hasn’t deteriorated movement quality.

Ultimately, the screening process is meant to be a filter, not a diagnostic tool.  When a doctor takes your blood pressure it can them whether or not you are hypertensive, pre-hypertensive, or healthy.  It doesn’t say why exactly that is, instead is just a means to put you into one of said categories.  The FMS works under the same logic.  Although, none of the movements necessarily look sport specific that really isn’t the purpose.  In the words of Gray Cook, the founder of FMS, “it’s not sport specific, its species specific.”  If you meet the minimum requirements, then move on and don’t stress about perfection.  In 2017 we have more people training than ever before, yet probably have higher injury rates than ever before as well.  That correlation is more than likely not a coincidence.  Having a movement screen done before beginning a program is the first step in giving you a road map of what to do next.  It is not the end all and be all, but rather the first step reducing the likelihood of injury and improving athletic performance.

To schedule a Functional Movement Screen (FMS), contact one of the Raleigh Orthopaedic Performance Centers:

Cary Location Raleigh Location
1823 NW Maynard Road
Cary, NC 27513
2400 Sumner Blvd. #120
Raleigh, NC 27616


About Walker Cruikshank, CSCS:

Walker graduated from East Carolina University in 2014 with degree in Kinesiology. He is a certified strength and conditioning specialist (CSCS) through the NCSA and is EXOS Performance Specialist Certified. After graduating from ECU, Walker did internships with EXOS and has 2 + years of experience in Sports Performance and Post Rehab Performance training in an Orthopaedic setting. His areas of interest include: Injury prevention, optimizing movement, strength and power development.