The Functional Movement Screen is an assessment that got a lot of heat a few years when Vern and Mike Boyle argued about it’s effectiveness. My stance is closer to Vern’s as Mike’s responses were not very convincing. I was exposed to the FMS years ago when manuals were actually in paper format and experts were older than college graduates. During that time I was reading everything in the office of Kevin Harmon, who was the strength coach for the Rays in Tampa Bay. One item that grabbed my attention was Gray Cook’s stuff and it looked promising. The overhead squat tests were used in the 50s (maybe earlier) by chiros and coaches to check lumbar motion in guess what? Weightlifting.
A prime example on StrengthCoach.com was Anthony Renna getting talking about Greg Streblow’s glute guy being able to do a bilateral squat. Greg is a smart PT and shared a story about a client that was injured in a car accident. One of his injuries was a large percentage of his glute scraped from the highway. With one glute system the guy was able to squat up and down slightly below parallel. Note this was with his bodyweight only and bilateral. Like a 757 designed to fly with two wings, one engine being out will not down the plane. It’s like driving around a CVS parking lot thinking your alignment is working but when you go 60 mph on the highway you can better test that hypothesis. Higher forces can exaggerate problems if used right and add to the fact that he wasn’t doing a single leg squat on the bad butt leg confirms the fact their is a limit to compensations. The fact that Lee Burton in the podcasts later said that visual symmetry doesn’t confirm muscle pattern (recruitment percentages) use during the interview with Anthony (my question was addressed and the answer confirmed the limits of the test).
So what are my thoughts? Some of the screens are good but a better option is to go to the roots and learn the origins of the evaluation tool. Remember the screen is used to sell to the masses. The masses is the average trainer or the middle of the bell curve.I repeat it is not a complete evaluation tool as of last year gait was never included in the tool. Sure it’s not for everyone to be able to look at gait but that’s why not everyone should be considered an expert or professional. The problem is that expertise requires money. Need a good evaluation from a PT? You got to pay the guy? Want good coaching? Don’t go to facilities that have interns run the asylum. Simply put the Screen is incomplete but something is better than nothing. If the lowest level trainer uses the FMS we are much better off but don’t stop there. A simple GPP is a screen as you can tell a lot from simple exercises what the athlete can do. I suggest reading Al Vermeil’s stuff about athletes being ready to lift as he combines a lot of people’s material. Here we have a guy that takes the cream off of Boyle, Cook, Commerford, and others to create a more complete system. And it’s a far better value.