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The Functional Movement Screen (FMS) is a ranking and grading system that assesses movement patterns for normal movement.   The screen is a great tool to identify movement dysfunction and is used as an indicator of risk of future injury. 


The FMS is a series of 7 movement screens that require balance, mobility and stability. The purpose of the FMS is to assess the foundations of the fitness pyramid - Functional Movement.  The 7 movement tests of the FMS assess the fundamental movement patterns that all athletes must be able to perform effectively in order to maximise their performance and to avoid future injury.  This careful rating and ranking of movement allows the evaluator to determine areas of movement deficiency by placing athletes in positions where weakness, imbalance, asymetries, and limitations become noticable.   Many athletes are masters at hiding compensations in movement.  Therefore, it is not uncommon for athletes to be able to perform a wide range of physical activities in their sport whilst compensating for poor movement patterning and are therefore at a much higher risk of injury.   It is impossible for an athlete to 'fake' their way through the FMS as the 7 specific movements will drag out movement dysfunction even if an athlete is able to 'muscle' their way through one or two of the movements.   This will result in all movement dysfunction being identified and this can then be corrected with appropriate exercises.












In this video David from Bikefit Sport Science demonstrates the 7 steps of the FMS while at the Lifemark Sports Medicine Clinic At the Richmond Olympic oval (home of the Vancouver 2010 winter Olympics). Physiotherapist and movement expert Melina Kurtakis narrates.

What is the FMS?


FMS identifies  movement dysfunction and asymmetries, and prescribes corrective exercise in a structed program=


How is the FMS scored?

Each of the 7 tests in the FMS are scored on a scale of 1 to 3.  A score of '3' indicates correct movement patterning with no asymmetries.  A score of '1' indicates that the athlete was unable to complete the test adequately.  If there is pain present a score of '0' is given for that test and the athlete is then referred for further investigation into that area.   The 7 scores are then tallied to give a total out of 21.  A score of 14 or less indicates that the person is at a significantly increased risk of injury.


Scoring poorly on the screen means compensatory movement patterns are being used throughout every movement activity they participate in, resulting in unnecessary wear and tear on the body and eventual injury.


In a study that was done with NFL athletes, it was shown that athletes who scored less than a pre determined score on the FMS were 11 times more likely to be injured.  Athletes that showed an asymmetry were 3 times more likely to sustain an injury.


By identifying movement dysfunction and asymmetries, corrective exercises can be prescribed to address these specific areas of concern.   By performing a structured program of corrective exercises, athletes are able to give themselves the best possible opportunity to optimise performance and most importantly, remain injury free.

Who uses the FMS?

The FMS is used as a screening tool by many of the largest sporting organisations in North America, including  most NFL Teams (including Baltimore Ravens, San Francisco 49ers, Greenbay Packers, Oakland Raiders, Seattle Seahawks, Cincinati Bengals), the NFL Draft Combine, NHL Teams (Including Pittsburgh Peguins, Anaheim Ducks, Carolina Hurricanes, Montreal Canadians), the NHL Draft Combine, and many other professional sporting organisations.  These organisations use the screen in pre season testing as well as during the season to determine whether an athlete is fit to return to competition.



See this link for a great example of where the FMS is used in the worlds number one sporting organisation - the NFL:


The FMS is a great tool that Bikefit and Sport Science uses on all clients and allows the most effective training programs or bikefit.  By perfoming the FMS prior to commencing a bikefit or training program, Bikefit and Sports Science is able to determine whether your body is moving correctly and whether you are at an increased risk for injury.  In the case of a bikefit, this also allows us to correct the movement pattern issues prior to the bikefit meaning that we are not amplifying your current incorrect movement patterns (and therefore reducing the risk of future injury : a uniqure featue of a BSS Bikefit). 

Risk for Injury

The number one risk for injury is PREVIOUS INJURY.




When someone sustains an injury their brain begins sending pain signals to that area of the body as a 'warning' that something is wrong.   Our bodies will ALWAYS do anything possible to avoid pain.  A good example of this is an ankle sprain.  When you roll your ankle, the ankle becomes swollen and painful so you walk with a limp to avoid putting too much pressure on the ankle and reduce pain.   You will generally hobble around for a few weeks before the pain settles down as the affected structures begin to heal.   After a number of weeks the soft tissue of the ankle has repaired.   However, the learned compensatory pattern of offloading that ankle (limping) is still there.  This is ‘dysfunctional movement.’  Our brain is brilliant and can write and overwrite different programs and signals that it sends to our working muscles and joints.  The compensatory motor program to avoid pain STILL REMAINS even after an injury has healed.   What does this mean? It means that now other structures (hip, knee, lower back etc) may be overloaded on a continuing basis.


This is where the FMS comes in.   A comprehensive movement screen can identify compensatory, dysfunctional movement patterns.   If these movement patterns are detected, corrective exercises can be implemented to address the dysfunction.   Targeted corrective exercises work to ‘REWIRE’ the brain to re-establish an equilibrium of normal, symmetrical movement.   Whether you have had previous injuries or not, the chances are that you will have movement dysfunction or asymmetries that the FMS can identify.


IDENTIFY (dysfunctional pattern) –IMPLEMENT (corrective exercise) – RELEARN/REWIRE (motor learning)

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