Functional Movement Screen (FMS): The Importance of Screening Movement

What is the Functional Movement Screen (FMS)?
The Functional Movement Screen is a product of an exercise philosophy known as the Functional Movement Systems. This system is based on sound science, years of innovation, and current research. In its simplest form, the FMS is a ranking and grading assessment system without judgment, which readily identifies functional limitations and asymmetries that may hinder functional training and physical conditioning. Furthermore, it can help identify compensatory movement patterns that are indicative of increased risk of injury.
The FMS generates the Functional Movement Screen Score, which is then used to target problems and track progress. The scoring system is directly linked to a database of corrective exercises most beneficial to the individual to help restore mechanically sound movement patterns. It is a logical path to exercise choices and program design, which is communicable between the client, exercise professional and physician. The FMS looks objectively at quality of movement, and it is extremely reliable and reproducible.

The Test and Scoring Heirarchy

The FMS test itself is a seven movement screen accompanied by three clearing tests that requires a balance of mobility and stability. These are the: Deep Squat Movement Pattern; Hurdle Step Movement Pattern; Inline Lunge Movement Pattern; Shoulder Mobility Movement Pattern; Active Straight – Leg Raise Movement Pattern; Trunk Stability Push – Up Movement Pattern; Rotary Stability Movement Pattern. These movement patterns provide observable performance of basic loco motor, manipulative and stabilising movements by placing the individual in positions where weaknesses, imbalances, asymmetries and limitations become noticeable when appropriate mobility and motor control is not used.

There are three basic outcomes here, which are:
1. You will have an acceptable screen by which it is safe to proceed with full activities.
2. You may have a screen that is unacceptable, but you simply may require a corrective exercise strategy before advancing exercise and performance goals.
3. You may exhibit pain with movement, either in the screen or in one of the clearing tests, which will require referral to an appropriate health care provider.
This is quantified in a scoring system of 3 – 2 – 1 – 0, as mentioned earlier in the article. As outlined above in the three basic outcomes, a score of three would indicate an acceptable screen with an unquestioned ability to perform a functional movement pattern. A score of two would display a degree of compensation noted when performing a movement pattern. A score of one would indicate an inability to perform or complete a functional movement pattern. A score of zero would identify pain associated with movement pattern.
The FMS is designed for all healthy, active and inactive people, and it is used for those who do not present with pain or injury.

My experience with the FMS
My initial experience with the FMS fall back a little over two years ago upon stumbling across a list of recommended books from a website called the Personal Training Development Centre. One of these books was Athletic Body in Balance, and kudos is given to it’s author Gray Cook, a Physical Therapist from the United States for the development of the FMS. Athletic Body in Balance serves as an initial blue print of the FMS. I found this book to be a highly valuable resource in how I would assess and program individuals, as it reinforced the idea of eliminating dysfunctional movement, preventing risk of injury, and adding volume and intensity to a symmetrical, functioning body. The system proposed in the book gave me a better tool to assess, and after numerous practices I sought to become registered.
This was fulfilled in late July of this year in the Level One Functional Movement Screen Course in Auckland. It was the first time this course had been brought to New Zealand. This eight hour workshop was administered by some of the best leading figures in the system, including Greg Dea who has an impressive resume’. The workshop was small, which enhanced the quality of learning, and being highly practical, gave me the necessary training in order to administer the screen.
As a Certified Functional Movement Screen Practitioner, I can administer the screen and program you to avoid the risk of injury, create more symmetry in your body, and help you work towards your health and performance goals.


For further reading:
Cook, G. 2003. Athletic Body in Balance. United States of America: Human Kinetics.
Cook, G., Burton, L., Kiesel, K., Rose, G., Bryant, M. F. 2010. Movement. CA, United States of America: On Target Publications.
Iardella, S. Exposing the Importance of the Functional Movement Screen (FMS). Retrieved from functional-movement-screen-fms.
What is the FMS? Retrieved from