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Friday, March 9, 2012

Have You Been Screened?

Many health and wellness professionals have an alphabet soup of letters or “designations” after their name.  These letters appear on business cards and published articles and represent credentials and qualifications that the professional deems important enough to tell the world about.  Never mind that most people have no idea what any of these credentials mean but it looks impressive, doesn’t it?  Now those of us in the industry…we know what they mean-which implies that we’re out to impress each other rather than the people we’re supposed to be serving.  But in an industry as competitive as ours, we must do something to set ourselves apart from others that do what we do.

But that is not the reason why I have the initials, FMS after my name.  FMS stands for Functional Movement Screen (certified) and it is a part of my practice that I am proud to promote (hence the initials.)

More and more people today are working towards becoming stronger and healthier. To that end, fitness professionals are constantly working to improve our client’s functional “performance” both in athletic endeavors and in daily life by increasing their flexibility, strength, endurance, and power.  However, a large percentage of athletes and those of us pursuing general health and fitness are performing complex and difficult activities even though we are inefficient in our most fundamental movements.  Without knowing it, we are attempting to put fitness on top of dysfunction. We unknowingly create poor movement patterns which over time become physical movement “habits.” We also tend to train around a pre-existing problem or, we simply do not train the weakness during our strength and conditioning programs.  By looking at the movement pattern and not just one area (i.e. a previous injury), a weak link can be identified.

                                                 What is the Functional Movement Screen?

Enter the Functional Movement Screen (FMS.)  The FMS is a ranking and grading system created by physical therapist Gray Cook (a bona fide genius in my opinion), that is used to document movement patterns that are key to normal physical function.  Basic movement pattern limitations can reduce the effects of functional training, physical conditioning, and can distort proprioception (body awareness.)  The FMS quickly identifies dangerous movement patterns so that they can be addressed and it also indicates an individual’s readiness to perform exercise so that realistic goals can be set and achieved.  Without this type of “intervention,” a person will likely continue to compensate for their lack of mobility or stability putting them at risk for injury.

At the heart of this system is the functional movement screen score, which helps to target the problem and track progress. The scoring system is directly linked to the most beneficial corrective exercises that will help to restore mechanically sound movement patterns.

In order to isolate the weak link, the system evaluates seven movement patterns: the deep squat, hurdle step, in-line lunge, shoulder mobility, active straight leg raise, trunk stability push up and rotational stability.  These are all basic human movement patterns which we are born with and through the normal maturation process seem to “unlearn” as we grow up.  World class athletes commonly have such limitations so it is important to realize that the need for this screening has nothing to do with athletic ability, body composition, or skill.  Nor is it graded or evaluated on the basis of performance.  Most people do not begin strength and conditioning or even rehabilitative programs by determining if they have adequate movement patterns.  This screen should be an important component of their initial fitness assessment (prior to beginning a rehabilitative or strength and conditioning program.)
                                                         Benefits of an FMS Screen

The FMS simplifies the concept of movement and its impact on the body. Its streamlined system has benefits for everyone involved; individuals, exercise professionals, and physicians. It utilizes simple language, making it easy for individuals, exercise professionals, and physicians to communicate clearly about progress and treatment; it effortlessly identifies asymmetries and limitations, diminishing the need for extensive testing and analysis and it creates a functional baseline to mark progress, providing a means with which to measure performance.

Have you experienced problems with your Knees? Back? Athletic performance? Balance?

These problems are connected to inherit movement pattern dysfunction and should be addressed prior to beginning an exercise program-at any fitness level.

The FMS is currently utilized by US military special forces, the NFL and major league baseball.  For more information or to find a certified professional, visit   

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Fitness expert and integrative performance coach Jini Cicero, CSCS, teaches intermediate exercisers how to blast through plateaus to create incredible transformations. Are you ready to take your fitness to a whole new level?  Find out now!  Take Jini's "Are you Ready?" Quiz at © 2011 Jinifit, Inc.

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