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What to Expect from Functional Movement Screen (FMS) Testing

At OSR Physical Therapy, we see patients with varying levels of immobility and pain, all of whom come to us with the desire to increase their function and improve their quality of life. While this may be a tall order for some clinics, treating conditions related to orthopedic injury, sports injury, post-surgical injury, soft-tissue injury, back and neck pain, motor-vehicle accidents, general hand therapy, work-related injury, and neurological disorders are our specialties.

That said, it’s important for patients to undergo a complete evaluation with a member of our team to determine the most appropriate and effective treatment approach. In some instances, our clinicians may administer certain tests to resolve functional dysfunctions and asymmetries. One such test is called a functional movement screen (FMS) assessment, and it does what we described – it provides clinicians with a snapshot of a patient’s functional limitations.

What is Functional Movement Screen Testing?

FMS testing is inarguably one of the most effective methods for determining functional limitations in the body. It often acts as a clinician’s roadmap for optimizing a patient’s therapy or training program because it allows physical therapists and performance coaches to measure a patient’s movement quality through seven fundamental movement assessments. Simply put, FMS testing takes the guessing game out of a patient’s movement dysfunction(s) and allows clinicians to develop highly effective, comprehensive treatment plans.

FMS testing was developed in 1997 by physical therapists Lee Burton and Gray Cook. Since then, the testing model hasn’t changed, ensuring clinicians utilize core principles to create customized programs. There are many benefits to this assessment, some of which include:

  • Pain identification
  • Injury prevention
  • Reliable, data-driven approach
  • Simplifies the concept of movement
  • Provides a scorecard that can be clearly communicated to individuals, physicians, and exercise professionals

What to Expect During FMS Testing

As we alluded to previously, the assessment uses a series of seven movements to test balance, mobility, and stability. During the test, an OSR physical therapist works with the patient to determine scores for each movement on a scale of 0 to 3. The scale can be seen below:

0 = pain during movement
1 = failed movement pattern
2 = passed but with some compensations
3 = passed with no compensations

FMS testing is very strategic, as it is comprised of 3 functional movement patterns, 2 positions that test mobility, and 2 movement patterns for core stability. During your appointment, your clinician will have you perform a series of movements and score each one based on your ability to complete the task and your verbal feedback on pain and discomfort.

To ensure you’re not surprised during your appointment, here are the movements that will be asked of you:

  1. Deep squat
  2. Hurdle step
  3. In-line lunge
  4. Shoulder mobility assessment
  5. Active straight leg raise
  6. Trunk stability push-up
  7. Rotary stability

While there are many blogs and articles out there that provide some guidance on how to perform these tests at home, the team at OSR Physical Therapy wants to stress the importance of going to a professional who’s certified in FMS testing. Our team of physical therapists goes through a number of courses and training sessions to receive certifications in this assessment, and it takes the competency of trained individuals to not only determine your limitations but to provide expert advice on ways to correct them. If you’re experiencing a decline in your range of motion and an increase in your pain levels, you may be a candidate for this assessment.

To see if you’d benefit from FMS testing, please call one of our clinics and schedule an appointment today. Our team of physical therapists takes the time to listen to your questions and concerns before recommending any kind of treatment plan – visit our Contact Us page to see what OSR Physical Therapy can do for you!

The advice and information contained in this article are for educational purposes only and is not intended to replace or counter a physician’s advice or judgment. Please always consult your physician before taking any advice learned here or in any other educational medical material.