What is a Functional Movement Screen (FMS)? Why is it Important?

You may have heard of a Functional Movement Screen before and wondered what it was.  If you have heard this term used, you probably have an interest in fitness or overheard someone else that has an interest in fitness talking about it.  This screen was developed by physical therapists in the late 90’s and has made its way into athletics and general fitness over the past two decades.  During my time as a minor league baseball player with the San Diego Padres, this was performed on all athletes during spring training prior to the regular season starting.   

So, what does an FMS do?

A Functional Movement Screen is a series of 7 tests that are specific to fundamental human movement patterns. Individuals are rated based upon their performance of these tests and classified into specific categories based upon their scores. To be more general: an FMS tells a person if they are moving well or not. If a person scores poorly, it could be due to a lack of joint mobility, muscle tightness, muscle weakness, postural instability or a mixture of some/all. These factors are indicative of potential injury risk down the road. If you would like more information on FMS, you can read about it detail in this article.

Why is this Important?

When I walk into an office or manufacturing facility, I often see posters on the wall of exercises or stretches that are designed to reduce injury and improve human performance.  A general routine can be helpful (if it is specific to the nature of work), but it doesn’t need to stop there.  In addition to a “general” warm-up or stretching routine, team members should also participate in a routine that targets their physical strengths and weakness.  However, if these strengths and weakness are never identified, how do you target anything?  This is why performing a Functional Movement Screen is so important.  It allows for data driven, targeted solutions that will improve employee movement patterns and reduce this risk of injury. With consistency, team members will see improvement with problematic movements overtime. Additionally, performing reassessments periodically is crucial to ensuring the success of the program. Reassessments allow for a shift in focus to other deficiencies after improvement has been made from previous assessment. 

We utilize this powerful tool to develop programs for large groups without losing sight of each person’s movement needs. If you are considering implementation of a warmup or stretching routine at your workplace, I would highly suggest looking into making FMS a part of your initiative. But remember, just getting to record the scores is not enough.  The assessment just signals that there is a problem. If my vehicle isn’t working, I usually make it worse if I try to work on it myself. That is why I take my vehicle to a mechanic that has the necessary knowledge, skills and tools to fix it. Consequently, I would recommend partnering with someone who has the skills necessary to deliver interventions and understands the correct strategies to target issues and deliver results.

If I can be of any assistance to you or if you have any questions, please connect with me by your favorite platform below.  I would love to start a conversation!



Kevin is the Executive Director of HealthWorks Kinesiology and is a Certified Industrial Ergonomic Evaluator (CIEE), Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) and a Certified Personal Trainer (NSCA-CPT).  Kevin holds a bachelor’s degree in Kinesiology and Health Promotion from Louisiana Tech University.

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