Reflections on the Functional Movement Screen (FMS) Seminar

Last weekend I attended the Functional Movement Screen (FMS) Level 1 and 2 seminar in San Diego, California.

I’m always looking for ways to simplify the process of correcting the gait of runners that I work with. The FMS is an extremely easy tool to use, and the corrective exercises that I learned are aggressively effective.

But before I go into all that, let me back up and discuss what the FMS is all about. The FMS started when Gray Cook and Lee Burton realized that mainstream kinesiology and physical therapy wasn’t helping a majority of people recover completely: even though injury and physical dysfunction were being rehabbed properly, very little was done to regain proper movement.

As Gray Cook likes to say, “mobility does not equate with movement.”

In other words, it is not enough to simply have active range of motion (ROM) for a particular joint in order to be able to use that ROM in an activity. While the mobility might be there, the body has to understand how to apply that mobility to a global movement pattern.

The FMS has established a baseline for competency and dysfunction of movement, and based on that baseline, has developed a corrective method to bring the body towards proper movement.

Of course, proper movement does not equate with peak performance. But proper movement is necessary to allow the body to tolerate an increased training volume, and to have an efficient training response. Training, then, must be done when there is already correct movement.

As a runner, this is humbling for me. I have a pretty good gait, and although specialists will point out power leaks here and there, the FMS shed light on just how problematic my movement is, and did so in a meaningful way. It’s not just a matter of stretching the glute med or working on the piriformis any more—that’s not how the body understands the musculoskeletal system. It understand that system through movement and gait.

The FMS speaks the language of the body, and seems to speak it well.

Already, within only a week of working on my weakest links, I have increased trunk flexion and extension capacity, and much, much better mobility in my hips and legs.

I look at the majority of runners, who enthusiastically classify themselves as “injury-prone,” or “overpronators.” But if you think about it, there’s very few runners that are “true” overpronators—very few out there who have shoulder, hip, and knee aligned in the saggital plane and still overpronate. Overpronation is born from a movement dysfunction (which of course, may have roots in musculoskeletal dysfunction).

Running is a contact sport. Think about how many times you contact the ground during a marathon. We runners need movement quality prior to training quantity to negotiate those contacts correctly.

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