I HATE the Functional Movement Screen


I HATE the Functional Movement Screen

By: Buddy Morris (Coach X)

The two people I trust and admire the most for their knowledge and ability to ”fix” things are my good friend Allan DeGennaro and my little brother, Michael Hope, PT. Neither of them use or agree with the FMS (the latest greatest tool to help make super athletes). It’s funny how the spokes team for the FMS, the Indy Colts, have led the league in injuries the past couple years.

So now you hear, “well they’re coming back and rehabbing quicker.” But that’s not what all the FMS people said in the beginning. It’s like this, when the University of Tennessee and the University of Miami were winning, it was due to the Gail Hatch system. Then, when they started to slide down, Mr.Hatch didn’t take responsibility anymore. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, there are no quick fixes or top secret double probation programs and exercises!

As Pavel has said, “you can only do so many corrective exercises, at some point in time you gotta get under a bar!”

Now, let me run a few quotes from the late Mel Siff, who knew a thing or two about training and the human body during movement. Then, I’ll run some Feldenkrias and Better Movement by you and lastly offer my opinion on the subject. So, sit back and enjoy the ride…

“Simply because posture is poor does not mean its pathological. Nor does it mean a person with visually poor posture undoubtedly will suffer from more musculoskeletal problems. Simple isolationist mm testing of trunk or any other muscle cannot determine if one’s muscles will be operating inefficiently or in some state of imbalance in actual multi-angular sporting activity.” – Mel Siff

He goes on to say that, “anything that creates greater awareness of optimal patterns of stability or mobility can help to improve motor skills, posture, and movement efficiency! Awareness training more than any given exercise or therapeutic regime on its own is likely to have a greater impact on improving posture than anything else. Awareness creates cognition, cognition creates motor learning!”

How did we ever participate in sporting activities before the FMS? We are all asymmetrical by nature, it’s how we work!

What do I do to correct my asymmetries? To start, I brush my teeth with my left hand. In fact, I try to do most things left handed. My wife now sleeps on the right side of the bed, me on the left. I get on my Harley swinging my left leg over instead of my right. I also try to walk backwards everywhere I go.

I’ll listen to people who have at least been under the bar. Yes, the developers of the FMS are smarter than me but nowhere as strong, nor have they produced the performance results that I have. A great website to visit is bettermovement.com. There is a great article on the use of the OHS (over head squat). READ IT. Don’t be a lemming, make up your own mind.

I’ve seen athletes pass the FMS with great scores but things suddenly change when you add a “LOAD” or you mechanically stress them. First it was the TA (transverse abdominis) and drawing the belly in. I invite you to do that next time you get under a heavy squat. Then the multifidus, then back stabilization, then patellafemoral issues, then shoulder and thoracic issues, then ankle mobility, NOW it’s all about the hips! Everything that goes wrong is hip related?

We have forgotten how to train and created problems that have no end. We are all individuals, not clones. No one will ever fit the perfect model. Remember Michael Johnson, 400 meter gold medalist and World Record (WR) holder? He ran almost leaning back! Who’s to say he’s wrong? He did what was most efficient and effective for his body. He’s a WR holder, are you going change his running style because it doesn’t fit the perfect model? There’s pros and cons for everything, it’s your body and your decision.

It’s a matter of people who don’t lift weights influencing those that do.  Think for yourselves, don’t follow the latest internet-training guru or group of coaches trying to make a buck by showing you they are smarter than everyone else. Don’t do it just to do it! If you want to get fast, SPRINT! Expand the alactic envelope by training in the alactic environment.

I know coaches who refuse to do a standing broad jump because out of all the thousands of athletes that they have trained, one, that’s right one, was injured doing it, so now it a bad exercise or too stressful. Are you kidding me? Pretty soon we’ll all have our athletes doing chair aerobics! The sporting requires proper preparation.

As a trainer, if you watch your athletes move and train, you’ll correct them and make sure things are done properly. Often times irregularities correct themselves! That’s why I coach in small groups, pay attention to detail and coach; that’s what we are paid to do.

In closing, because this is getting me more irritated, if you are telling your athletes that they lift the day after the game due to lactic acid, you are an idiot. The sport ain’t lactic! The soreness and stiffness they are experiencing is from physical trauma from a heightened emotional response to the game. You can’t duplicate that in practice.

Bottom line if you feel the FMS is important then use it. As for me, I think on my own. I don’t use it. Do your own research. At the end of the day, it’s your choice.

Update* – There are some good questions asked below regarding the FMS and as time has gone on, more research has been done.

– Do Functional Movement Screen (FMS) composite scores predict subsequent injury? A systematic review with meta-analysis.

23 Responses to “I HATE the Functional Movement Screen”

  1. Aaron King

    This Is outrageous. The screen is only to tell you about proper movement patterns and look for weak links. The screen says nothing about corrective exercises or programs to follow. Just because the Colts use the screen does not mean that they implement the correct program to change the issues. I used to wonder why Gray Cook was so repetitive explaining what the screen is meant for but now I understand. No matter how many times he says it, it will still be used improperly. A screen is a screen and nothing more. The little things you’re doing by using your non dominant hand are solutions to what a screen could tell you was originally wrong.

    Just because someone is successful at something doesn’t mean they couldn’t have been better by improving upon their base talent, and of course there are exceptions. This article is not thought-out, and is completely off base because of the lack of understanding about even the base premise for the system.

    Lastly, because it’s hard to even discuss something with someone who doesn’t have a contextual base for the system and is ranting on something they don’t understand, I’ll end with this. Of course people aren’t clones, but that doesn’t mean we don’t have similar movement patterns and that we cant improve upon basic movement. Of course the important things the community focuses on change over time ie. ankle, t spine, etc. Its therapy and medicine and there are advances in knowledge. Let’s just tell medicine not to change anymore because they keep progressing to find a solutions that are closer to the root problem.

    • Fred Duncan

      Aaron, Buddy is now the Strength Coach for the Arizona Cardinals and mid-season, so I can only provide my own take on this article.

      Let me quickly remind you that you are here, reading HIS article. He was one of the first strength coaches ever hired on the Division 1 level. He has Olympic gold medalists and NFL hall of famers. This doesn’t mean he’s incapable of being wrong but he has forgotten more than you’ll ever know. So while you are certainly entitled to your opinion, to say he has a lack of understanding when it comes to assessing athletes is absurd. Moving on.

      Our beliefs are that you don’t need to follow this screen, that if you are a good enough coach with a proven history, you can watch your athletes move and make decisions. Any well thought-out program should cover all of these bases regardless. That’s what good training is! You have likely fallen into the corrective exercise trap. This is another “sexy” fad that also has no research supporting it.

      What I personally do is far longer and more intensive than the FMS. I choose movements based off who I am looking at. Is there overlap? Sure. The difference is I’m not creating problems where there aren’t any. Great, someone’s score wasn’t “optimal,” please show the research that supports you are able to accurately predict and then prevent an injury based on this.

      I really don’t believe you need to put any sort of a name behind it. Be a coach. Take real-time feedback from what you are watching. You need to determine the information you feel will produce the most efficient and optimal results for your specific client. Not based off your biases or your preconceived notions of what functional movement is. I personally believe this needs to be individualized.

      The research on it seems to be lacking as well, with studies done on firefighters and women, some showing no statistical significance, etc. These studies also do not show exactly why or how these tests correlate with “functional movement.”

      Who is the all knowing being who determined what “functional movement” is? Did anyone have a say in the matter? Is it this black and white? While it sounds nice in theory, the research doesn’t exactly support it. If it does please supply it.

      Please also read – Do Functional Movement Screen (FMS) composite scores predict subsequent injury? A systematic review with meta-analysis.

      I would like to refer you to the website bettermovement.org and a great article there on using the OHS as an “assessment.” This is a good part from it, “Most people will never perform an OHS until a trainer tells them to do one. Therefore, if you watch someone perform an OHS and rate their relative performance, a good percentage of your rating is a simple reflection of how many times they have practiced the movement in the past.

      When I asked Eric Cobb (the creator of Z-Health) his opinion of using the OHS as an assessment of general movement ability, he said that’s like using a tennis serve to test coordination. Well said. Of course it would not make any sense to look at a client’s’ tennis serve and then start drawing conclusions about their general function and the relative tightness and weakness of particular muscle groups.”

      Mel Siff touched on this sort of thing here,

      “All-around sports training must include the capability of coping with unexpected sub-optimal conditions” – FMS cannot measure this nor do I think any test will be able to.

      – “Simply because posture is poor does not mean it’s pathological, Nor, does it mean a person with visually poor posture will undoubtedly suffer from more musculoskeletal problems” – I have to agree here. I work with hundreds of new athletes each year. Posture is simply not a good indicator of their injury risk.

      – “Simple isolationist mm testing of trunk or other muscles cannot determine if one’s muscles will be operating inefficiently or in some state of imbalance in actual multi-articular sporting activity.”

      • Aaron King

        You’ve missed the point.you don’t need to have a famous name to differentiate between a screen and a progressive progra. The fms simply points out whether you have mobility. If you go to a dentist and they screen your health and you have a cavity you might be ok. But the dental screening isn’t a fix or a program. The procedure after is.

        If you’re going to discredit something you should speak on what the purpose is and why it doesn’t make sense. Every one of the screens points to some sort of mobility or stability test that is important considering the body works together. Having proper hip, ankle, knee, lumbar, and thoracic mobility/stability is important right? So why would you hate something that could help tell people where they need help. The screen is not just for premier athletes. It’s for general population, one that has lost all sense of non sedentary lifestyle whom could benefit from knowing how sedentary lifestyles affect them.

        Just another reason I know you didn’t examine the screen in entirety and you’re recycling what things you’ve heard others say.

        A screen is a screen. Most people could benefit from improvements in mobility and stability. The screen doesn’t attempt to tell people it needs to be perfect. In fact it only tries to say whether you are too deficient to exercise. If you read any of it, it never says people should shoot for perfect. It says, let’s see if there’s any major weaknesses. My point of replying was to say, you’ve misunderstood the point, and if you looked deeper you’d understand that everyone could benefit from being more stable, and more mobile.

        Lastly, to reiterate, the screen doesn’t say you need to score perfects on everything to be a amazing athlete which is where you’re taking the screen. It only says, if you score below this, you need work. Ie the ohs can be modified to see if you still have reasonable rom even if you can’t do it in it’s most difficult progressions. But you most likely did not know that. He doesn’t expect every human to do that which is why the scaling is set the way it is.

        I will no longer respond to these because I’m arguing over the purpose of something not the validity and if you cannot see the purpose or how the screen works then there is no sense is discussing it. It is obvious that you have not studied it but only observed it from afar. Which is not wrong of you, but to speak ill of something you have not studied in depth is irresponsible.

        • Fred Duncan

          Aaron, I never once said that people couldn’t benefit from more mobility or stability. The FMS does not own those terms. Nor is their way the only way to “assess” them. I am simply asking you provide any sort of research that supports the claims you or the FMS make.

          We are also both well aware of the joint by joint approach of alternating mobile/stable joints and absolutely feel it has value. But again, a solid program should already address the body as a whole and the specific individual at hand.

  2. Aaron King

    If you studied it you would know how the scoring works and why picking on someone not being able to do an ohs or why that’s not important doesn’t make sense. Your proposing the screen says you need to be perfect to be great. The scoring is If you score a two which is functional then he doesn’t even try and change anything. He only changes things if you have pain or obvious signs of weakness or tightness. How can you think that’s ridiculous? The screen doesn’t say your functional but not perfect so keep working until your perfect. There leaves room for anatomical and functional differences within the species. But I can still look at someone and says wow. You can’t even do a lunge without wobbling and losing balance and that’s not good. Or hey you can’t even reach behind your head. That’s not normal we should work on that.

    Until you read and understand the purpose instead of jumping to the conclusion that it’s meant to make every single person perform exactly the same and that it’s not ok if you don’t you shouldn’t be speaking out against if.

    • Fred Duncan

      Again, you are missing the point. We ASSESS ALL OF OUR ATHLETES, we use movements that we feel are necessary based off of the individual, their sport, their injury history, their current training level, anatomical structure etc. You call it the FMS, we just call it an assessment.

      The FMS followers claim that it helps predict injury which we clearly have a different view on. I don’t think that’s accurate. Predicting injuries is not that simple and if you believe it is you have a ton more to learn. Also, I still don’t understand why an 80 year old grandmother and Lebron James would use the same screen. My assessments on high school athletes are different than those on older general population clients, this shouldn’t be hard to understand.

      Finding areas that could be improved in an athletes strength, movement, mobility, stability, did not begin with the FMS. Watching athletes move doesn’t need a fancy name and marketing. As a matter of fact, what we do at our facility is much more in depth and encompassing than the FMS.

      We watch more than just a handful of movements before we determine the future of the athletes program. So yes, we can go back and check baseline to ensure there is progression, you don’t need a plastic tool kit to do this effectively.

      You came on an article written by one of the best and most respected strength coaches in the country with comments about how to assess athletes. Do you even train athletes? How long have you been in this business? How many fads have you seen come and go? A lot of kids in PT school get their hands on a little bit of information and start to think they know more than guys with 25 years experience. Don’t be that guy.

      The article ends with, “if you feel it’s important, use it.” You feel it’s important, so use it. I’d like to think that with 32 years in the profession, Coach X has a better “understanding” (as you called it) of all this than you do.

      • Dylan Hernandez

        I’m going to have to agree with Aaron here, Fred. With all due respect and no offense (as I agree with some of your points), I do agree that you don’t really understand the point of the FMS. Gray Cook defends the FMS constantly, as Aaron said, since clearly it is misused by so many. Unfortunately this is why I think some shouldn’t use the FMS at all. A screen is NOT AN ASSESSMENT TOOL. I wish there were bigger caps to get that point across. It does NOT look for movement inefficiencies, it does not imply injury risk, and it has nothing to do with rehabbing an injury. It is simply used to rate movement. If used properly, all the screen tells you is to move on with training. NOTHING ELSE. You can choose to do what you want with it, but you can’t try to bash it’s credibility when I can safely assume you haven’t read Cook’s book “Movement”, where he outlines the use of the screen very clearly. Hope this helped your understanding! 🙂

        • Fred

          Dylan, Thanks for visiting the site.

          The definition of assessment – “the evaluation or estimation of the nature, quality, or ability of someone or something.”

          You made it clear, in capital letters, that the FMS is not an assessment tool.

          You then say that it is used to RATE movement. (You are evaluating the quality of movement – therefore an assessment). Besides the point.

          You also say that it doesn’t imply injury risk (we agree), doesn’t look for movement inefficiencies and has nothing to do with rehabilitation. Ok, great. Once again proving how truly unnecessary it is (which is my argument to begin with).

          http://bjsm.bmj.com/content/early/2016/04/25/bjsports-2016-096256.short?rss=1 – “Why Screening Tests to Predict Injury Do Not Work”

          How is this any different than what really good coaches, who understand movement, have been doing for years?? Which is just watching their athletes move. You say the screen tells you to move on with training? And my point would be that you can make that call without the FMS and clearly plenty of great coaches do.

          From their website:

          “Put simply, the FMS is a ranking and grading system that documents movement patterns that are key to normal function. By screening these patterns, the FMS readily identifies functional limitations and asymmetries. These are issues that can reduce the effects of functional training and physical conditioning and distort body awareness.
          The FMS generates the Functional Movement Screen Score, which is used to target problems and track progress. This scoring system is directly linked to the most beneficial corrective exercises to restore mechanically sound movement patterns.”

          The problem with the product and overall message is the use of ambiguous, subjective terms and trendy buzzwords (“functional training”, “corrective exercise” etc). Not to mention the lack of any true evidence in support of it. You yourself have admitted that the product seems to have failed in educating many “users” of its proper use and understanding (“since clearly it is misused by so many”).

          So here’s my only real question. Where is the evidence that this (FMS) is a superior way to “rate movement” and thus design a more effective training program?

    • Dr. David Fields

      I also have to agree with Aaron about the scoring. It is quite obvious that an 80 year old patient will not get a perfect score… in fact, we do not expect perfect scores. That’s OK. It is the increase in the score that we are after. We are not saying that a person has to be a perfect 21 in order for them to be healthy. Nobody is truly in perfect health, not in this world anyways, and definitely not in an industrialized society. This doesn’t invalidate the FMS. We are simply interested in improving the score by improving the keystone dysfunctions that prevent a body from doing these basic movement patterns that this form of testing helps to elicit. It is not a replacement for good clinical workup. I still eval muscle lengths and other functional assessment like Flxn/Extn ratios and endurance/coordination testing. There will always be political controversy in the healthcare system about who’s tests or processes are more valid. Something tells me that this is truly the reason for this argument. It’s about marketing, it’s about publicity, it is not about what truly helps the patient. My interests lie in patient results, not pushing a product.

      • Fred

        David, Can you please provide me any research that shows improving this score leads to better “insert whatever you like here.” I am the only person in these comments that has provided any sort of research on this matter (please see the link above).

        I do not wish to argue anecdotes and semantics. When evaluating a practice, I not only use my experience, but where the current literature stands as well. If someone would like to include some evidence in support of this system, I will glady read it.

        • Dr. David Fields

          Fred, I will say this. What we are really looking for here is a positive correlation between FMS score and athletic performance and/or a positive correlation between risk of injury and a low FMS score. In other words, if a person performs well in FMS, then they are likely to have better athletic performance and less likely to be injured.

          I followed your link above. I need to say to you that this is not what we would consider research. It is actually a published opinion (backed by other’s research) by Roald Bahr. I must say, while his background is impressive, it is still an opinion because there was no experimentation performed. Having said that, if he believes that these screening tests will never be able to predict injury, then there is probably something to that. But, I’m afraid you have misinterpreted his opinion. First, he never even mentions Cook’s FMS…so his conclusion is not considering this screen. Second, he is saying that there has never been the proper research demonstrating definitively that one of these screening tests is truly predictive of injury. Third, his point is that a specific enough marker (like ACL tear) is not being selected to have it’s association tested with a specific enough screen (like knee abduction during vertical drop jump) in the research conducted for the majority of these screens. He commends the author of this particular study below for actually testing this correctly, but goes on to say that this is only the first step. See excerpt below:

          Hewett et al10 introduced the vertical drop jump test as a screening test for ACL injury in female athletes in 2005 based on a prospective cohort study. Of 205 young female athletes tested in the preseason, 9 went on to suffer an ACL rupture. Of a range of different movement characteristics compared between injured and uninjured players, they observed the strongest association with injury risk for peak external knee abduction moment during landing, concluding that this factor predicted ACL injury status with 78% sensitivity and 73% specificity. This study, although the sample is small, is a good example of the first step towards a screening test.

          So this researcher he is referring to did actually take the first step in solidifying a good screening test because of how specific it was in it’s prediction. Unfortunately, they did not go on to fulfill the rest of Bahr’s criteria, likely because this sort of research costs a lot of money, so it takes time for the research to catch up to the observation of the healthcare professionals that use it.

          I am going to go ahead and refer to a study done WITH FMS that measured correlation between FMS and athletic performance, because I could not off-hand find a study that correlates low FMS scores with risk of injury…again, this would be costly and extensive research that would have to be performed on a number of different types of injuries for each particular finding during each of the seven FMS tests. Please realize that each FMS test can elicit dozens of different types of findings and that the FMS score is very very general, so just one of these screens would have to be tested for it’s correlation between dozens of different injury types.

          Of the seven movement screens, rotary stability displayed significant correlation with selected physical fitness characteristics (squat jumps: r = 0.74, P=0.001; upper body medicine ball throw: r = –0.59, P=0.01; standing long jump: r = –0.63, P=0.006; 300m sprint: r = 0.52, P=0.03; and power: r = –0.65, P=0.005). Conclusions: Combat sport athletes require significant core strength and torso stability to optimise power projection and this emphasises the anterior oblique slings. These results suggest that the FMS rotary stability pattern is a suitable measure that is associated with specific physical fitness characteristics. Paper presented at: 4th Exercise and Sports Science Australia Conference and the 6th Sports Dietitians Australia Update. Gold Coast, QLD. 2010.

          So the only movement pattern that showed correlation was the rotary stability. I do not recognize the rest of those screening tests as ones currently used in Cook’s FMS method.

          I will wrap up with this,
          Finding research to support or deny FMS’s validity for predicting injury or athletic performance is very difficult, and in fact the proper research probably doesn’t exist. If you want a research paper to say what you are asking, then you may be out of luck. I can only say that I have had quite incredible success using functional screening tools as a first step in my detective work as a physician. Then using targeted treatment methods to correct these dysfunctions, relieve many patient’s of their complaints. I realize you are in a different field with different goals, so I will respect your decision as a professional not to use this screen for your means, but in my experience, tools like the FMS have been extremely useful. The FMS is very logical to me in it’s approach for eliciting biomechanical dysfunction, and I recommend it. But, you are right… I cannot point to specific research right now because it is very time consuming and I’m not sure I could even find what you are looking for. Thanks.

          • Fred

            David, I’ve discussed a few topics on this thread, I was referring to – “Do Functional Movement Screen (FMS) composite scores predict subsequent injury? A systematic review with meta-analysis.”

            “24 studies were appraised using the Quality of Cohort Studies assessment tool. In male military personnel, there was ‘strong’ evidence that the strength of association between FMS composite score (cut-point ≤14/21) and subsequent injury was ‘small’ (pooled risk ratio=1.47, 95% CI 1.22 to 1.77, p<0.0001, I(2)=57%). There was 'moderate' evidence to recommend against the use of FMS composite score as an injury prediction test in football (soccer). For other populations (including American football, college athletes, basketball, ice hockey, running, police and firefighters), the evidence was 'limited' or 'conflicting"

            Conclusion: “The strength of association between FMS composite scores and subsequent injury does not support its use as an injury prediction tool”

            It’s at the end of the article and in the comments section. It also includes FMS in the title so I’m not sure how you missed it unless you did not want to see it.

            My point with the link you’re discussing was how difficult it is to predict injuries. From what I recall, a vertical drop jump is not part of the FMS. And if you’ve read the original post or my comments, you’ll see I’ve repeatedly stated that we ASSESS everyone who comes in the door.

            However, I do not tell someone they have a “dysfunction” based off of one man’s definition of what functional movement is or should be. You know how complex the body is and you know injuries/pain are multi-factorial. I would also welcome any research that discusses finding “dysfunction” and then “fixing it” with “corrective exercises.” These terms are thrown around very loosely these days and nobody is held accountable.

            I like Dr. Spina’s take on this from his FRC course which is, “There are no “corrective exercises” for movement, movement “corrects” movement.”

            Now, I’d like to address and reiterate my previous response to Dylan. This is pulled from above:

            From the FMS website —- “Put simply, the FMS is a ranking and grading system that documents movement patterns that are key to normal function. By screening these patterns, the FMS readily identifies functional limitations and asymmetries. These are issues that can reduce the effects of functional training and physical conditioning and distort body awareness.”

            “The FMS generates the Functional Movement Screen Score, which is used to target problems and track progress. This scoring system is directly linked to the most beneficial corrective exercises to restore mechanically sound movement patterns.”

            The problem with the product and overall message is the use of ambiguous, subjective terms and trendy buzzwords (“functional training”, “corrective exercise” etc) that have no real definition. Not to mention the lack of any true evidence in support of it. All training is “functional.” A bicep curl to a bodybuilder is technically functional, though in the world of trendy bs functional training, it would not be.

            Using this language has far-reaching consequences as you now have a bunch of people trying to “correct” someones “dysfunction” even if there are no complaints…Creating problems where they don’t exist and also making patients/clients feel broken or “dysfunctional.”

            This is a good article as well – “The Corrective Exercise Trap” (https://www.painscience.com/microblog/corrective-exercise-trap.html). Here’s an excerpt:

            “Although it is often assumed that identified so-called “dysfunctions” in posture, movement quality, or body function are reliably predictive of potential injury and performance, the preponderance of the scientific evidence casts a great amount of doubt on any claims about the strength and reliability of such relationships. This is because natural variations in human posture, movement and mobility/flexibility make identifying strict ideas of what is “correct” difficult and possibly invalid in many cases. Humans naturally move in different ways to accomplish different tasks, and identifying small variations in that movement as a “dysfunction” may not be very useful or helpful.”

            “The practical implications of this are that the fitness professional should not immediately qualify a movement pattern as a dysfunction just because it does not fit within certain standards of a given corrective exercise evaluation, and that fitness professionals can better appreciate that exercise in general is far more valuable from a therapeutic perspective than is often thought in corrective exercise belief circles.”

            My point(s), from the start (since I did not write the OP), was that:

            1.) The FMS is unnecessary
            2.) There is no current research that backs it
            3.) It uses deceptive language to sell the product

            None of these comments have proven any of my points wrong. I’ve also never once stated that you shouldn’t assess a client or patient. If anything, you proved my point that my personal assessment is more relevant and individualized as a drop jump is one (of many) tests that I use with “specific” populations.

            Lastly, I appreciate you discussing this article with professionalism unlike the original person who commented.

        • Dr. David Fields

          Fred, ahhhh. I see the link now. I did not purposefully ignore it. I will look into it. I admit with running a practice, I only have limited time to research these things on my own, so admittedly I usually rely on others to provide the research for me. It looks like you have really gone the length to study this topic. So, in this regard I will defer to you and thank you for bringing this study to my attention.

          • Dr. David Fields

            I would like to point you towards one of my favorite books. Liebenson’s Rehabilitation of the Spine. In this book many authors point to extensive research correlating particular physical performance tests with symptomology. The evidence is so strong that it is actually predictive of future injury. For example: Static Trunk Extensor Endurance Test. In a prospective study of Finnish workers between the ages of 30 and 65 years, reduced repetitive trunk extensor endurance strongly correlated with an increased risk of work diability caused by chronic back disorders over a 12 year period (Rissanen A, Heliovaara M, Alaranta H, et al. Does good trunk extensor performance protect against back-related work disability. J Rehabil Med 2002; 34: 62-66). There are literally hundreds if not thousands of such articles referenced in this book. Unfortunately, I do not believe I saw FMS as one of the screening tests, but I know that there is good evidence that these screening tests are predictive of injury. God speed!

          • Fred

            David, No problem. I was not sure if you had seen that specific link, that’s all. I believe you and I have the same goal, just different approaches, which is fine. I’ve always stated that if you find value in it, then continue to use it. As long as we are producing for our clients, we are doing our job. Truly my biggest issue (and this is with most products in fitness today), is clever/misleading marketing and one-size-fits all approaches.

            While I have not read Craig’s book, I do follow a good deal of his work and certainly value it. I will definitely check it out, thank you for the recommendation. I have read all of Stuart McGills books (which I recommend), but as you alluded to, running a business can make it tough to stay on top of everything. I actually just recently read a post by Liebenson discussing the trunk extensor test you are referring to. I will delve into that book as soon as time permits. Thank you for your discussion and have a nice Thanksgiving.

  3. Michael

    To Fred, Aaron, or any coach with experience,

    Young strength coach looking for some advice in this area…

    I feel like this is almost as pointless to argue as is the superiority of different coaching styles. Yeah there are plenty of variances, and yeah plenty of them are successful in different ways. Just so I am clear, with respect to the industry of athletic performance training as a whole, is the bottom line not to show our athletes (especially youngsters) AND their parents there is room for improvement? As a coach starting my career, does this testing not provide a clear-cut standard with easily comparable normative values? I don’t have years of experience under my belt. I’m looking for any and every way I can get a step up on my peers, and to separate myself from the coaches who fail to recognize misconceptions of proper movement.


    • Fred

      Mike, Thanks for visiting the site and your comment, appreciate it. Here are my thoughts and I’ve got to be quick because I’m at training camp right now.

      Is it pointless to argue? Sometimes, yes, but it can also help push the field forward and force others to think.

      To your next question about showing parents/athletes, you are falling in the same trap as the guy above. The FMS is not the end all be all and certainly doesn’t test everything. You can test a shuttle, vertical jump, push-up, etc etc. literally anything you want so you have things to compare it to. At the end of the day what matters is if what you are doing in the gym is transferring to the field/court, NOT what your bias selected as “the important movements.” I put all of my athletes through a thorough assessment and then every session I am closely paying attention to how they move. Is this not testing and looking for improvements? Or do I need to label it, market it and then sell it first?

      • Michael

        Appreciate the response Fred. I guess the core tests really do shine through. I definitely agree with you in that respect. I have my CSCS and I was looking for something to take my services to the next level. I know there’s a point to which parents just stop listening to the kinesiology terms and want things more clear cut. As in literally the piece of wood and the mechanics drawn on Dartfish. I’m in this to drive athletes to their full potential, but the upper management of the facility for which I’m working (private tennis) just fails to notice this critical point. I’m not sure it’s enough no matter what, but I understand your angle and really thank you for I your input.

        • Fred

          Mike, While getting certs is part of playing the game, none of them are that great. When I interview someone I could care less what certification they hold. All that tells me is how much money they spent, not how much they know. Nothing can replace experience and working under great coaches. My advice, go and mentor under coaches you admire and get real life working experience.

          As someone who has sold all types of training it’s really not about gimmicks, buzzwords or equipment. If you are good, you are good and the results will speak for themselves.

  4. TJ

    These comments were great!!! One question. I’m not a strength coach, or athlete performance trainer. I train overweight women (mostly) looking to lose weight and gain strength and better mobility. I’ve used the FMS as part of my initial assessment and periodic assessment with clients. I feel it adds some value to their program as a whole and helps me determine who should be doing squats and deadlifts, and who aren’t quite at that level yet. Do you, in your humble opinion, feel as if there is any value in this area of fitness? Thanks for you time.

    • Fred

      Tj, Thanks for visiting the site. As Buddy stated in the article, if the product provides value to you then by all means use it. Our biggest gripe with it is the dogma that surrounds this product and the lemmings who follow every word the originator says. I also have an issue with the way they market it, the false claims, and the complete lack of evidence. However, Buddy and I are coming at this from a very different perspective than most. He has been doing this 30 years and is widely considered the best or one of the best in his field – his knowledge of the human body is absurd. While I don’t have 30 years yet, I have taken functional anatomy, bio-mechanics, neuro, etc. all at a doctorate level, so I’m also coming at this from a different view point. I don’t think you are doing your clients a disservice by using it and if it helps YOU and THEM, then I’m all for it. I can certainly see how it would help you sell your program and give clients feedback.



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