How a Functional Movement Screening (FMS) Can Help You Improve Your Run, Bike, Ski or Snowboard Season

From nutrition to compression socks and foam rollers, athletes today are always looking for the next best thing to help them further their training. However, it is less common for athletes to consider how movement while exercising may impact performance. The Functional Movement Screen (FMS) assesses several different movements, each of which activate key muscles during exercise, and evaluates how athletes are moving and if any asymmetries are present that will hinder training.

We use the FMS at Timberlane Physical Therapy to identify weaknesses and imbalances to determine injury risk. The test consists of seven exercises and each exercise is scored on a scale from three to zero. An individual score of three concludes that the exercise is being performed perfectly and a score of zero is received if the exercises are not able to be performed or if pain is experienced while performing the exercise. A total score of 14 or lower considers the individual is at risk for injury and identifies a need to seek treatment from a physical therapist.

Rarely do athletes such as runners, bikers, snowboarders and skiers know of effective prehab exercises, such as the FMS, that will help them stay in shape and maximize their performance other than typical stretching and nutrition approaches. A study was conducted by Michael Garrison et al. (2015) that assessed 160 collegiate athletes, both male and female, who participated in contact and non-contact sports throughout the season. It was found that athletes with an FMS score at 14 or below combined with self-reported past history of injury were 15 times more likely to be injured compared to those athletes that scored higher on the FMS. As this was the first prospective study examining a large group of male and female athletes involved in a variety of sports, the results of this study generalize the effectiveness of FMS tests to a larger sector of the athletic population. Identification of individuals at risk for injury can lead to effective intervention strategies that address fundamental movement patterns and potentially decrease injury risk. Movement screening can also play an important role in determining when an athlete can safely return to a sport with a lower risk of re-injury.

After years of similar workouts, athletes may have made a habit of incorrect movement patterns typically performed when training which may actually contribute to injury, therefore, strength and flexibility exercises sometimes are not enough when training for a big race or competition. Additionally, what is done outside of training has an impact on performance. For example, if you sit at a desk all day then it almost certain that you have muscle imbalances that will affect your training. The FMS is able to hone in on specific, individual problem areas and with a treatment plan from a physical therapist typically following the FMS, those areas can be focused on to maximize performance and decrease the probability of injury.

The FMS is something that Timberlane Physical Therapy recommends to all individuals looking to perform their best whether it be running during the Burlington City Marathon, snowboarding or skiing in a race or biking frequently around town -- really anyone who is curious of their imbalances, inefficiencies, and inflexibilities!

The effectiveness of the FMS is backed by many current scientific studies and is applicable to a large population of high-risk sport athletes such as runners, bikers, hikers and anyone, male or female, involved in exercising. FMS participation paired with physical therapy is a recipe for athletes and individuals to be healthy, maximize performance and most importantly do the activities they love to do without pain involved.

Please call Timberlane Physical Therapy today at 802-864-3785 to schedule an FMS.

Source: Garrison, M., Westrick, R., Johnson, M & Benenson, J. (2015). “Association between the functional movement screen and injury development in college athletes”. International Journal of Sports Physical Therapy. 10(1): 21-28.

The video below can also help explain FMS:

FMS Screening Info