Originally published in May, 2011
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.
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 am a huge fan of the FMS, of Gray Cook and of Lee Burton ( the co-creators). 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. 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. 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". 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.
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".
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. "