This article is for FMS certified fitness and health professionals who want to improve their skills with movement screening as well as for those curious in learning more about the Functional Movement Screen. As with any task that you do, the more you do it the more experienced, and hopefully better, you will become at doing the task. Same goes for fitness professionals using the FMS (Functional Movement Screen). But instead of only relying on learning by doing, and sometimes learning by your on mistakes, we want to offer you a shortcut to your best FMS screen by summarizing some of the most common mistakes and traps that you will encounter in the setup and execution of the FMS;
DISCLAIMER: This article is not intended to replace any of the official FMS scoring criteria or verbal instructions. There are countless of ways a person can compensate and not fulfil the scoring criteria during an FMS screen. The ones listed below are simply some of the most common compensations or misunderstandings we see when using the FMS, and we think it’s worth to highlight them so they don’t end up undetected and fly under your radar.
Forgetting to reset the feet after each repetition is common to see. The feet should be reset as needed with toes pointing straight forward at shoulder width a part between each repetition.
Another common misunderstanding from the person being screened is the thought that the spine has to be neutral (with 0 butt-wink) during the DS. This often means squat depth is limited voluntarily and the person being screened is therefore not being screened in full functional range of motion. When this occurs repeating the verbal instructions of squatting as deep as possible is recommended.
HURDLE STEP Sometimes there’s an over emphasis on looking at what happens at the foot, ankle, knee and hip, to the extent that the position of the dowel is forgotten during the HS pattern. When doing the FMS you should learn how to observe negative space and not get caught up focusing on one specific joint or area of the body, leading you to miss what happens with the pattern as a whole.
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INLINE LUNGE Similar to the DS, the foot position of the ILL is a very common area that needs to be reset and reinforced. This means, after every repetition, reset the feet if needed and this especially applies for the back foot; commonly “spinning out” while performing the movement pattern. One of our best advice here is to completely step off the board and start over again, usually a much faster and safer way to achieve the proper setup position.
ACTIVE STRAIGHT LEG RAISE Knees unlocking and bending is commonly seen in the ASLR. This happens not only with the moving leg but also with the non-moving leg, something that’s easy to forget to observe. One easy indicator to see if the non-moving leg is bending is to watch for the back of the knee to remain in contact with the board the entire time.
TRUNK STABILITY PUSH-UP
The hand position of the TSPU needs to be in the right place from the start for a properly executed FMS. This means, thumbs and hands at proper position (depending on gender and scoring attempt). It’s common to see the hands repositioning between attempts and therefore resetting the hands before next attempt is crucial for standardization of the screen procedures.
ROTARY STABILITY Connecting the elbow to the knee over the board needs clarification often times than not. Often the contact point happens more towards the mid-thigh and therefore repeating the verbal instructions to connect the elbow to the knee and making it absolutely clear what this means gives the person you are screening a fair chance to complete the movement pattern.