I Like The Way You Move…

Every time you visit the doctor’s office what’s the first few things that happen? Blood pressure, heart rate, height, and weight are taken. These tests (primarily speaking of heart rate and blood pressure) are performed to compare to normatives that have been established through research.

Now compare your visit with your family physician to an orthopedically oriented health professional (e.g. Orthopedic Surgeon, Athletic Trainer, Physical Therapist, etc.). Can you think of a normal procedure that is done no matter what your complaint is? Typically this isn’t the case. Joint by joint approaches may be taken such as goniometric measuring and manual muscles testing, but as we will discuss later on the brain does not work with single joints and muscles when moving the body. Don’t get me wrong, these types of tests hold a lot of merit and should continue to be utilized in musculoskeletal evaluation but there is something that the orthopedic world has overlooked in recent decades that is slowly making a comeback.

If we are able to have an objective baseline test for our heart, maybe we as health and exercise professionals should have a baseline measure for how the body moves. Physical Therapist Gray Cook and Athletic Trainer Lee Burton created the Functional Movement Systems. Under the Functional Movement Systems are three tests and assessments; the Functional Movement Screen (FMS), Selective Functional Movement Assessment (SFMA), and the Y-Balance Test.

A common theme from the Functional Movement Systems guys is “Quality of Movement, not Quantity of Movement”. More often than not we look at how much weight we can move instead of how well we are moving it. Poor understanding of movement quality is often a predecessor to injury. Asymmetries and dysfunctional movement patterns is what the FMS and SFMA are all about, without these systems in place to act as a check and balance they can often be overlooked. The FMS helps the practitioner objectively test the subject to assist in making a decision on whether or not exercise is indicated for them while the SFMA is performed by a medical professional when there is a presence of pain in any given movement pattern.


The FMS, which may be performed by a FMS certified medical or exercise professional, was created to setup a simple system to test and evaluate individuals’ movement quality. As stated before, many of us are not ready to begin lifting heavy weights. If you can’t prove to me that you can successfully perform a non-weighted deep squat, would it be wise of me to throw a barbell with forty-five’s on each end on your shoulders and say “figure it out!”? Now this is the most straight forward example I can give you but I think it gets the point across.

Within the Functional Movement Screen there are seven tests that place the subject into extreme positions of mobility and stability. Each of the seven tests mimic different stages of the developmental model and takes the subject through fundamental, transitional, and functional postural positions. Each of these tests are scored on a scale of zero to three making a total possible score of twenty-one. During the screening process the individual will perform the deep squat, the hurdle step, the inline lunge, the active straight leg raise, the rotary stability, the push-up, and shoulder mobility tests.

With the findings seen in this objective baseline screen, the exercise or medical professional can make a well-informed decision on what movement patterns need corrected. If we as fitness and medical professionals can eliminate asymmetries and faulty movement patterns and prove it on top of that, then I believe we have set the patient up for success.

Now that we have the tools to create a proper baseline for movement, we can better show results of the work the patient or client put into the corrective strategies that are prescribed to them.

The Functional Movement Screen is in place to magnify movement dysfunction and asymmetry. The Selective Functional Movement Assessment is utilized when pain is present. Why go directly from pre-participation exams straight to performance testing? Shouldn’t something be in the middle to bridge the gap?

First Move Well. Then Move Often

-Gray Cook



Functional Movement Systems Website: https://www.functionalmovement.com

Gray Cook speaks on the system: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qBB0UdcsItk

Lee Burton Speaks on the system: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-WlenZwqsjw

The Movement Book by Gray Cook

Breakdown of the FMS: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IkPYqPIeBjc

Functional Movement Screen Information Sheet: file:///C:/Users/WSUadm/Desktop/259a_What%20is%20FMS%20flyer.pdf


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