Will the FMS Cure Most Communicable Diseases?

Jun 22, 2022

Posted February 15, 2011

Hey Mike

Many of the over simplifications have been addressed in the book. Unfortunately people talk more than they read and I can tell it is beginning to irritate you.

OK, so the title is a bit tongue-in-cheek. However, if you are a regular Strengthcoach.com reader you might be tempted to answer yes. It seems every thread now begins with the statement "have you done the FMS on them". Every answer parrots the same mantra. If you attack the weak pattern, the athlete or client will be miraculously cured.

The weak pattern will drive performance problems, but performance problems can also be due to poor performance. That's why I suggest that both be tested.

To be honest, I think doing the FMS should be step one for every client that complains of pain. In fact, if you have the time it should be step one for every client, period.

I actually think the SFMA will get the painful problem managed more efficiently and effectively than the FMS. I advise the people with pain to skip the FMS.

I am a huge fan of the FMS, of Gray Cook and of Lee Burton (the co-creator). However as Alwyn Cosgrove likes to say first we underreact, then we overreact. As one member said yesterday "has the pendulum possibly swung too far?". The FMS is a screen. It is a way to begin to gather information about an athlete or a client relative to the way they move. For me it is step one when an athlete or client complains of pain. What it is not is a heat-seeking missile that will expose a weak pattern and present a miracle cure.

I just read a thread that intimated that FMS correctives will cure shin splints. That is what prompted me to write this article. Yes, the shin splints could be the result of a biomechanical fault that originates in the hips or the core but it is overuse that causes shin splints. In past years when I ran too much my shins hurt. If I followed a more progressive program they did not. Every overuse injury is not a movement fault.

Totally agreed -- every overuse injury is not a movement fault -- but don't stop there -- prove it! If the FMS shows serious dysfunction then you cannot rule out a movement problem. On the other hand if the FMS is clear or at least 2s on everything with no asymmetries then you have identified a performance problem, programming overload, or inappropriate activity choice.

Some people just aren't the right body type for distance running. No amount of corrective work is going to make an offensive lineman into a distance runner. If you fix his Active Straight Leg Raise and then send him out for a 5 miler he will probably still have shin or low back issues.

This may be the way some misguided people use our model -- but I've never implied anything like this -- ever!

It is the old hammer analogy. My hand hurts when I hit it with the hammer. The Dr's advice, hit the nail.

I love the fact that everyone has embraced the FMS and is beginning to see the value of screening, evaluating or assessing but please let's not overstate it's value so that people begin to discount it. The Functional Movement Screen is step one in the process. Step two is up to you. Step two does not have to be "refer them to an SFMA therapist".

I've never said to send the FMS client or athlete with pain to a medical professional trained in the SFMA. It's just nice when someone speaks the same language. All I've ever said is -- don't go it alone -- get some help and limit your liability and protect your client / athlete in the most responsible way possible.

There are thousands and thousands of excellent therapists who have no idea how to perform the FMS who will do an excellent job of getting someone better.

Agreed! No argument from me!

There are numerous models for therapy and rehab. Gray's model best fits the Sahrmann model of rehab through movement. As strength coaches, athletic trainers and physical therapists, this model fits extremely well for us as it works within the confines of our abilities. However, I have seen the best results when the skills of manual therapy are combined with the model of rehab through movement. In my experience the "weak pattern" is very often a result of a soft tissue or joint dysfunction that simply will not get better by attacking the weak pattern. Often a qualified physical therapist must aggressively attack joint function or tissue quality.

Our fascination with the FMS reminds me of the old internet fascination with ART. Every internet thread started with "have you found an ART provider yet". We need to remember that all methods are tools in a toolbox. Sometimes the best tool is the computer or the phone. Much like the TV show Who Wants to be a Millionaire, the best thing you can do is phone a friend to get the right answer.

Please be careful not to oversimplify complex processes. There are no right answers and as the old saying goes, there are many ways to skin a cat. If someone asks you "how do I skin a cat". You are not required to answer "have you performed the FMS on the cat yet".

Sorry the FMS -- misunderstandings take time out of the other stuff you would like to do. Unfortunately we are both in education and it is our responsibility to answer the stuff directed at us. I hope that the people who have read my new book are not the ones misapplying the model. As a matter of fact every response I've provided is in the book.

I've also attached all the principles from chapter 15 in the book. All I really care about is the principles -- the FMS and SFMA are just the methods I use to stay as close as possible to the principles. I also provided extra commentary in blue. Enjoy

Thanks for the heads-up!

One last thing brother -- I think a quick way to clarify whether an FMS question is worth answering is to ask the individual who posted it if they have read the Movement Book. If they have not there is a good chance the answer is readily available. If someone posted about Shirley's work you might first question if they had studied her work as much as you have.

PS- If you have the time the FMS should still be step one for every client, period. But remember it is a way to begin to gather information about an athlete or a client relative to the way they move. "

Principle # 1

We should separate painful movement patterns from dysfunctional movement patterns whenever possible to create clarity and perspective.

*What I want you to know -- I feel the starting point is to separate pain and dysfunction and I have opinions about what to do next. I guess I'm not satisfied with the current systems I see in place. I'm not offended when people criticize the screen -- I'm just disappointed when they don't have a viable solution to put in it's place.

Principle # 2

The starting point for movement learning is a reproducible movement baseline.

*What I want you to know -- We set far more performance baselines than movement baselines. When we do set movement baselines they are often not standardized. Without standardization it is nearly impossible to develop a statistical injury prediction model.

Principle # 3

Biomechanical and physiological evaluation does not provide a complete risk screening or diagnostic assessment tool for comprehensive understanding of movement-pattern behaviors.

*What I want you to know -- This does not imply that we stop looking at biomechanics and physiological factors. It just means that we need to add a whole movement profile into the equation. The # 1 risk factor for a future injury is a previous injury… Even if you have a good PT, even if you have a good trainer, even if you have a good coach… We don't have bad pros we suffer from the lack of a manageable system.

Principle # 4

Movement learning and relearning has hierarchies' fundamental to the development of perception and behavior.

*What I want you to know -- A clear understanding of movement pattern capability reduces the trial and error we often experience when trying to gauge a client or athletes movement learning capabilities. It also offers a level of risk management that is supported by research.

Principle # 5

Corrective exercise should not be a rehearsal of outputs. Instead, it should represent challenging opportunities to manage mistakes on a functional level near the edge of ability.

*What I want you to know -- There is more to corrective exercise than just doing exercises correctly.

Principle # 6

Perception drives movement behavior and movement behavior modulates perception.

*What I want you to know -- When movement pattern dysfunction is identified the client or athlete is often unable to correct the problem with verbal instruction or isolation exercise.

Principle # 7

We should not put fitness on movement dysfunction.

*What I want you to know -- Everyone seems to agree with this but no one seems to have a systematic solution. Basically every trainer I know says they have enough experience not to do this but no one has a reproducible system. Everyone just vouches for himself or herself. My question is -- If everyone is doing so well why do we still have low back pain, non-contact athletic injuries and training related injuries.

Principle # 8

We must develop performance and skill considering each tier in the natural progression of movement development and specialization.

*What I want you to know -- The FMS is not the only thing -- but I feel it is the first thing. Frequency, intensity, volume, performance level, and all the other factors regarding appropriate activity and conditioning must still be considered. It is entirely possible to have a good FMS and still get shin splints from running. This scenario suggests that movement capability is present but performance considerations were not managed.

Principle # 9

Our corrective exercise dosage recipe suggests we work close to the baseline, at the edge of ability, with a clear goal. This should produce a rich sensory experience filled with manageable mistakes.

*What I want you to know -- It is refreshing to explore exercises that require increased sensory awareness. I used to think 3 sets of 10 reps would fix stuff and then I started to measure things to see exactly what I had changed -- not much.

Principle # 10

The routine practice of self-limiting exercises can maintain the quality of our movement perceptions and behaviors, and preserve our unique adaptability that modern conveniences erode.

*What I want you to know -- Motor learning seems to progress at an accelerated rate with exercises that make us work and also pay attention. Self-limiting exercises require a certain level of technical skill before you could even come close to a volume that would place unnecessary risk. My lists of self-limiting exercises are simply suggestions to force precision with higher levels of sensory input.