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The Functional Movement Screen for Tactical Operators
Thomas G. Palmer, PhD, ATC, CSCS 9/6/2012 1:52:05
Posted: Friday, May 3, 2013 10:25 AM
Joined: 9/6/2012
Posts: 1


For many years clinicians in several different arenas have attempted to assess and train human movement. The overarching premise of these tasks is directly linked to gaining knowledge about functional movement pathologies or what I like to call “Bio-MIS-chanics” within the body’s motor control system. Why is there such a concern to investigate human movement? The simple response is that there appears to be several factors regarding human movement and performance. The Functional Movement Screen (FMS) System and different movement screen techniques have been implemented over the years to get a better grasp on movement and performance outcomes in industrial and tactile occupations, such as firefighters, police, and military. As a deduction system of movement faults or limitations the FMS’s popularity has made it the “mammogram of movement” or for the males a “pRostulate of performance”.  All kidding aside, in review of the literature the FMS seems to be a well-established assessment system that has been moderately effective in determining injury risk potentials and appears to have some connections to tactile occupational performance variables, such as dropout rates and leave of absence. Furthermore, the simplicity of implementing the testing and the corrective exercises makes it ideal for mass testing of groups while providing objective values that can be applicable to individual needs and isolated body segments (i.e. upper verse lower body). And while some limitations exist regarding the reliability for pre- to post-intervention data the system is easily adaptable to both the training and medical personnel and environments. However, is this truly a responsive tool that should be used to determine tactical occupation performance potentials?  

As a clinician that endorses the use of the FMS, the SFMA, the Y-balance system and the philosophy regarding functional movement pathologies I continue to evaluate where the specificity of such “standardized” movement assessments truly fit into practice. I must say that when I first was introduced to the techniques by Lee Burton in some hallway of a conference center nearly 15 years ago I was skeptical. Back then there were only 4 movements with a slightly different view on the objectivity of movement. And while the evolution and marketing of the FMS has changed to more of an infomercial approach the basic concepts of maintaining bilateral symmetry and foundation movements in order to further acquisition skill remain the same. Thus, over the years of having personally tested well over 2000+ athletes (youth, college, older adults, professional), military and service personnel I have been able to develop “my-go-to” movements. You know the ones that I place more weight on in my assessment. For example, the overhead squat and the prescribed corrective strategies have become one of the more explicit aspects of the screen that I rely on. While I continue to follow the FMS procedure fairly close this is one of many novelties that I have developed over the years. I realize that the FMS is only one part of a multifaceted assessment and intervention process; however, I continue to search for ways to improve its utility.  

Thus, I pose to you the reader; What are the pro’s and con’s you have identified with the FMS in your specific practice? Are there specific movements or corrective exercises that you recommend placing emphasis on and why?  Do you have suggestions for modifying the grading or implementation of the movements/corrective strategy? While I truly feel that the research is beginning to validate the use and responsiveness of the FMS and related screens for the tactile occupations, the nuances from you the practitioner is what will really help to identify the specify of this tool and related screens.  Please, share your thoughts.  


Jim Stacey 6/13/2013 12:19:07 PM
Posted: Thursday, June 13, 2013 12:36 PM
Joined: 6/13/2013
Posts: 1

I am a new member so much of the jargon is still new to me. I was an EMT back in the seventies, and taught rescue for such groups as the Forest Service, so the TSAC-F seemed to be a good fit, but now I have to learn the modern language and ideas. You speak of the FMS and such as if this is something that we all know about, but I would like to know if you have any suggestions as to where to go for the very basics on this. Thanks.
MR Chris Sheffield, TSAC-F 10/12/2012 10:54:31 AM
Posted: Tuesday, July 2, 2013 4:04 PM
Joined: 10/12/2012
Posts: 6

I have limited experience with FMS beyond initial certification.  However, I have used it with military personnel.  I typically prescribe strength and conditioning plans from a movement centric view so an FMS screen is part of the process.  Recently I fellow Soldier asked me to create a tactical foot marching program together for him.  He had been complaining of low back pain and hamstring inflexibility.  Following the FMS I scored him at a 13 with a NO GO for lower back clearance.  I immediately took him to the unit PT assigned to THOR3.  She reviewed the score sheet and scheduled him for an evaluation (which included SFMA).  Her and I discussed programming and I decided to defer to her existing program given my colleagues history.  Bottom line, FMS is good for identification of possible MSI or to prescribe rehabilitative exercises to correct movement dysfunctions.  I do not advocate FMS as a “magic bullet” for MSI/movement dysfunctions.  


I would recommend readers of this forum to take a look at Functional movement screen and aerobic fitness predict injuries in military training by Lisman et al.  The research methods seem sound; right population and large number of participants. 



Very Respectfully, 



Chris Sheffield 

Dennis Garnham, CSCS, NSCA-CPT 6/4/2012 5:04:49 AM
Posted: Wednesday, July 3, 2013 10:07 AM
Joined: 6/4/2012
Posts: 8

I use the FMS and feel it is a decent tool.


The Army fitness school has looked at the FMS and determined it is too expensive to buy a kit for each fitness trainer.  Also, they would have to train them on how to do the assessments and what to do once they identify problems. 


So the Army Fitness school determined 4 exercises from their FM 7-22 (October 2012) can be used instead of the FMS.  They are the Quadraplex, single leg P/U, the Y squat and the Squat bender.  I believe using the army version can help in identifying some dysfunction.  For many readers this may be a more cost effective and easier way to do a functional screening although I would prefer doing the FMS if I had the kit and was trained on it.