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Functional Movement Screening: Identifying Movement Dysfunctions and Injury Risks

Understanding and correcting movement dysfunctions is crucial to pursuing optimal physical health and performance. Breakthru Physical Therapy utilizes an innovative approach to preventative care and rehabilitation through Functional Movement Screening (FMS). Learn more about how FMS can promote overall health and a sustained active lifestyle:

Functional Movement Screening: Identifying Movement Dysfunction and Injury Risks

What is Functional Movement Screening?

The primary goal of the FMS is to pinpoint areas of weakness, tightness, or imbalance that may increase the risk of injury or hinder performance. This assessment tool was developed with the understanding that most injuries occur due to inefficient movement patterns during basic activities or athletic performance. By evaluating seven specific movements, FMS aims to highlight areas that need intervention to prevent injury and enhance physical performance.

The Seven Key Movements of FMS:

  1. Deep Squat: This assesses overall body mechanics, explicitly targeting the coordination and mobility of the hips, knees, and ankles, alongside the stability of the pelvis and core.
  2. Hurdle Step: This step examines the body’s ability to maintain balance in a single-leg stance while moving the other leg. It highlights mobility and stability in the hips, knees, and ankles.
  3. In-line lunge: This exercise evaluates the body’s trunk and extremity coordination, stability, and balance during a challenging lunge pattern. It’s crucial for identifying side-to-side differences.
  4. Shoulder Mobility: Checks for shoulder range of motion as well as the thoracic spine’s mobility. It can uncover potential issues in the upper body’s movement that affect posture and upper limb mechanics.
  5. Active Straight-Leg Raise: This movement aims to assess the flexibility of the hamstrings and the stability of the pelvis and core. It can pinpoint discrepancies in lower limb mobility and core stability.
  6. Trunk Stability Push-Up: This test evaluates the core stability with an upper body movement, highlighting the strength and coordination of the trunk muscles during a push-up.
  7. Rotary Stability: Examining the core’s ability to maintain stability while the extremities are in motion can reveal how well the core muscles work together to stabilize and support the body.

FMS Scoring System & Results

The scoring system, ranging from zero to three, is a critical component of FMS. It offers a straightforward metric to evaluate an individual’s movement quality:

  • Score of 3: Movement is performed without any limitations or compensations.
  • Score of 2: The individual can perform the movement, but compensations are present.
  • Score of 1: The individual cannot complete the movement pattern even with compensations.

With FMS, physical therapists can develop personalized treatment plans that address the root causes of movement deficiencies. These plans often incorporate corrective exercises, strength training, flexibility routines, and specific interventions to improve the identified limitations.

When is FMS Beneficial?

While FMS is not injury-specific, its application is most beneficial for preventing and managing injuries often resulting from poor movement habits, muscular imbalances, and compensatory behavior. Here are some types of injuries and conditions where FMS can be beneficial:

  • Overuse Injuries: These injuries occur due to repetitive stress without adequate recovery. FMS can help identify the dysfunctional movements contributing to stress, which is common in runners or athletes with repetitive motions.
  • Lower Back Pain: Often related to poor core stability, hip mobility, or improper lifting techniques. FMS identifies these weaknesses, allowing for targeted interventions.
  • Shoulder Injuries: Including rotator cuff injuries and shoulder impingement, which can be exacerbated by poor posture or limited shoulder mobility detected through FMS.
  • Knee Injuries: These include ACL tears and patellofemoral pain syndrome, for which FMS can reveal contributing factors like weak hip stabilizers or poor movement mechanics.
  • Ankle Sprains: FMS can assess ankle mobility and stability, which are crucial for preventing ankle injuries, especially in sports with a high incidence of lateral movements.
  • Muscle Strains: Identifying imbalances in muscle strength and flexibility through FMS can help prevent strains by ensuring that muscles are neither overused nor underprepared for activity.
  • Pre-surgical and Post-surgical Rehabilitation: FMS can assess and address movement patterns that may compromise recovery or contribute to reinjury for individuals undergoing surgery.

Common FMS Findings and Rehabilitation Plans

Functional Movement Screening helps therapists design comprehensive, personalized rehabilitation or training programs by prioritizing corrective exercises that target identified weaknesses. This proactive approach not only aids in injury recovery but also plays a significant role in injury prevention, enhancing overall athletic performance and functional ability in daily activities.

Here are a few examples of what these personalized rehabilitation or training programs might include based on common deficiencies identified through FMS:

1. Limited Hip Mobility

  • Corrective Exercises: Include hip flexor stretches, pigeon poses for increased external rotation, and foam rolling techniques for the IT band and adductors.
  • Strength Training: To improve stability and mobility, focus on gluteal activation exercises such as clamshells, bridging, and single-leg deadlifts.

2. Poor Core Stability

  • Core Strengthening: Implement planks, side planks, dead bugs, and bird dogs to enhance core stability, focusing on maintaining proper form and gradual progression in difficulty.
  • Dynamic Stability Exercises: Incorporate exercises that challenge core stability while moving other body parts, like medicine ball throws and stability ball exercises.

3. Reduced Shoulder Mobility

  • Mobility Work: Shoulder mobility drills such as wall slides, band pull-aparts, and doorway stretches to improve range of motion.
  • Strengthening: Exercises aimed at the rotator cuff and scapular stabilizers, including external rotation with a band and scapular retraction drills.

4. Imbalances in Leg Strength and Stability

  • Single-Leg Exercises: Lunges, step-ups, and Bulgarian split squats to address strength imbalances between legs and improve overall stability.
  • Balance Training: Use balance boards or single-leg balancing exercises to enhance proprioception and stability.

5. Overall Movement Quality

  • Movement Drills: Practice and repetition of the fundamental movements that were deficient in the FMS, such as squats and lunges, emphasizing form and technique.
  • Plyometric Exercises: For individuals ready for advanced training, plyometrics can be introduced cautiously to improve power and efficiency of movement, focusing on landing mechanics and control.

Supportive Strategies at Breakthru Physical Therapy

  • Education: Therapists teach patients the importance of proper posture, movement mechanics, and listening to their body’s cues to avoid overuse and strain.
  • Warm-up and Cool-down Routines: Customized routines that prepare the body for physical activity and facilitate recovery post-exercise, including dynamic stretches and foam rolling.
  • Regular Re-assessment: Scheduled follow-ups to reassess movement patterns using FMS, ensuring progress and adjusting the program to meet evolving goals.

The exact composition of the rehabilitation or training program will vary based on the individual’s specific FMS results, goals, and other personal factors such as age, fitness level, and presence of any current or past injuries. The key to success with FMS-based plans is their customization: they are designed to meet the individual where they are and guide them towards where they want to be, with safety, efficiency, and effectiveness.

Let’s Work Together!

Functional Movement Screening is a powerful tool for identifying movement dysfunctions and preventing injuries. At Breakthru Physical Therapy, FMS is a cornerstone of preventative care and rehabilitation. By improving movement patterns, Breakthru physical therapists help individuals achieve their health and performance goals while minimizing the risk of injury. Whether you’re an athlete looking to enhance your performance or someone recovering from an injury, incorporating FMS into your care plan can pave the way for a healthier, more active lifestyle. For more information or to get started today, please schedule an appointment online or find a Breakthru location near you!

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