What are the 7 Functional Movement Screening tests? And what do they tell physios?

Physio Leonie Cameron explains the seven key parts of a Functional Movement Screening test, and what it can tell your physiotherapist about how you move and your susceptibility to injury

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Functional Movement Screening is an assessment technique performed by physiotherapists, which attempts to identify imbalances in mobility and stability during seven fundamental movement patterns.

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This screening test is thought to highlight the individual’s compensatory movement patterns; it’s thought that these flaws may then lead to a breakdown in the kinetic chain, causing injury, however it’s not a diagnostic tool. A kinetic chain is the understanding that joints, along with neighbouring bones and soft tissues, affect each other during movement.

There are two kinds of kinetic chain exercises; open and closed. The open kinetic chain is when the extremity your stretching, usually the hand or foot, is free and not fixed, whereas with closed it is fixed or stationary.

The key seven parts of the Functional Movement Screening test are:

1. Deep Squat

Used to assess bilateral, symmetrical and functional mobility of the hips, knees and ankles. A dowel held overhead also assesses bilateral, symmetrical mobility of the shoulders as well as the thoracic spine.

The ability to perform the deep squat requires appropriate pelvic rhythm, closed-kinetic chain dorsiflexion of the ankles, flexion of the knees and hips and extension of the thoracic spine, as well as flexion and abduction of the shoulders.

2. Hurdle Step

This is designed to challenge the body’s proper stride mechanics during a stepping motion, and requires stance leg stability of the ankle, knee and hip as well as maximal closed-kinetic chain extension of the hip.

It also requires step-leg open-kinetic chain dorsiflexion of the ankle and flexion of the knee and hip, and to perform it you must also display adequate balance as the test imposes a need for dynamic stability.

3. In-line Lunge

Places the lower extremity in a scissored position, challenging the body’s trunk and extremities to resist rotation and maintain proper alignment.

It requires stance-leg stability of the ankle, knee and hip as well as apparent closed kinetic chain hip abduction, as well as step-leg mobility of the hip, ankle dorsiflexion and rectus femoris flexibility.

4. Active Straight-leg Raise

Assesses active hamstring and gastroc-soleus flexibility while maintaining a stable pelvis (lower abdominal stability) and active extension of the opposite leg (demonstrating adequate hip mobility).

The ability to perform the ASLR test requires functional hamstring flexibility (the flexibility that is available during training and competition).

5. Trunk Stability Push-up

Tests the ability to stabilise the spine (requiring symmetric trunk stability in the sagittal plane – a longitudinal plane that divides the body into right and left parts) during a closed-chain upper body movement.

Many functional activities (e.g. jumping) require the trunk stabilisers to transfer force symmetrically from the upper extremities to the lower extremities and vice versa.

If this does not happen kinetic energy will be dispersed, increasing the risk of injury.

6. Rotary Stability

Requires asymmetric trunk stability in both sagittal and transverse (horizontal) planes during asymmetric upper and lower extremity movement.

Many functional activities require the trunk stabilisers to transfer force asymmetrically from the lower extremities to the upper extremities and vice versa. Running, swimming, and carrying heavy equipment or objects are examples of this type of energy transfer.

Failing this the kinetic energy will be dispersed, potentially leading to injury.

7. Shoulder Mobility

Assesses bilateral shoulder range of motion, combining internal rotation with adduction and external rotation with abduction.

It also requires scapular and thoracic spine mobility.

How is FMS scored?

The seven movement patterns are scored from 0-3 points.

3 = No compensations according to the established criteria.

2 = Can perform the movement but must utilise poor mechanics and compensatory patterns to accomplish the movement.

1 =  Cannot perform the movement pattern.

0 =  Pain.

Once these deficiencies have been identified through the FMS, a programme of corrective exercises is then developed by physiotherapists with the goal of improving sports performance and/or preventing musculoskeletal injuries.

Leonie Cameron, is a consultant physiotherapist at Six Physio.

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If you have any medical concerns at all always seek medical attention from a registered physiotherapist or doctor. During this lockdown time Six Physio are offering virtual physio appointments.

What is a physiotherapist and what do they do?