People of All Ages, Skill Sets Can Benefit from a Functional Movement Screen™

Posted on 
May 30, 2023

Three points can mean a lot of things to athletes. A three-pointer, a field goal, a birdie and even a perfect movement pattern.

A Functional Movement Screen™, or FMS for short, is a tool that scores and analyzes how a person moves in order to identify movement patterns that may lead to injury. The screening first gained popularity after the NFL tapped into it and has since become an integral part of the treatment planning process at Forté.

“The goal is not to get a perfect score, necessarily,” says Sara Myers, an athletic trainer at Forté. “We are looking for symmetry because when we see asymmetry between one side and another, there’s an increased risk of injury.”

The screening differs from other testing formats, which typically measure physical fitness, such as how much a person could lift, or athletic performance, such as the miles per hour on a person’s tennis serve.

“Those are the things that tell us what you do, but you really need fundamentals to accomplish them safely,” says Scott Hamersly, director of rehabilitation services at Forté. “The FMS helps ensure you have the fundamentals first before you apply anything else.”

During a functional movement screening, you’ll be asked to perform seven movements and exercises to test all your major joints and flexibility. The screening rates and ranks deficiencies and uses a combination of information acquired from all seven actions to help identify restrictions and issues.

“You can practice, practice, practice, but if you don’t have the fundamentals, you’re just enhancing an altered, faulty movement pattern that could lead to injury and will be harder to correct later on,” says Hamersly.

The screening is designed so that a variety of professionals, including personal trainers or an assistant coach, can feel comfortable leading the evaluation. If it’s performed in the pre-season, the FMS can also provide data that enables a more individualized training regimen.

“Some high schools screen every incoming freshman at the start of the football season,” says Hamersly. “If kids don’t have the fundamentals, they’re not allowed in the weight room, or they’re doing squats with a dowel rod. That would be the home run – to capture the data in the pre-season and then re-test down the road.”

Another benefit of the screening is that it’s wide-ranging in that it applies to all ages, sports and skill sets. Anyone who wants to find out if they can start a new type of exercise program, has had a previous injury or has questions about persistent pain could benefit from a functional movement screening.

“Moving, climbing, lifting – these are fundamental movements you need to live life, not just swing a golf club,” says Hamersly. “We perform this screening for athletes but also for anyone who has had a knee replacement.”

“The reality is that anyone who is active should have a baseline,” adds Myers. “If they’re playing a sport and required to play three to five days a week, then I highly recommend it.”

No doctor’s order or previous injury is required for a functional movement screening performed by the team at Forté. Request an appointment online or call 317.817.1200 to schedule yours, today.

These recommendations have been excerpted from Coaches Corner, a free monthly webinar series for coaches, athletic directors and athletic trainers. The series, developed and presented by Forté, in partnership with IHSAA, aims to arm coaching and support teams with helpful information to consider when working with their athletes. Subscribe online so you don’t miss an episode.

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