One TAClete’s Journey with the FMS Screen

Posted August 14, 2019

I recently had the pleasure of taking Missy Amato, dedicated T.A.C. Performance Center athlete and accomplished hiker, hockey player, AT skier and snowboarder, through the FMS screen. She was curious about her movement and wanted to know what little changes she could make to improve her athletic performance. 

The Functional Movement Systems screen is a proven method for detecting altered joint mechanics or compensation patterns, in your body. It consists of 7 movement patterns you used to evolve from a crawl to a walk, many years ago. These 7 patterns represent the language of movement; each pattern asks the body to recruit a family of muscles to do a certain task. Through the use of a dowel and very specific directions, the FMS screen detects altered joint mechanics and asymmetries; providing you with an honest look at how your body moves. A simple scoring system is used to give direct feedback: 3), you’ve mastered the pattern, 2) your movement is good enough to load with weights and there is room for improvement and, 1) this pattern is not functionally safe and needs immediate attention. 

We began by testing Missy’s overhead deep squat, challenging her total body mechanics. It revealed a limited range of movement in dorsiflexion; we learned this by elevating her heels and retesting the squat pattern. Once the restriction of her ankles was removed, she effortlessly descended into a squat with perfect form. She received 2 for this pattern. The hurdle step was next and tested Missy’s ability to balance on one leg, keeping her ankle, knee and hip in one line, while stepping over a hurdle. She received a balanced score of 2 on this pattern, as well. Next came the in-line lunge, testing her ability to remain in neutral spine, while descending into a lunge with both feet pointing straight ahead. We tested her left leg forward first, she received a perfect 3. We moved to the other side, positioning her right leg forward and noticed it was a lot more challenging for her to execute the lunge pattern and she squeaked by with a 2. This was a red flag for me; Missy exhibited asymmetry in this pattern. We moved onto the 4 fundamental movement patterns and she performed these with ease, earning two 3s and 2s for a final score of 16, a very respectable score. However, it was clear to me that the in-line lunge pattern needed our immediate attention.

This is where the magic begins! She now has a road map for refining her in-line lunge pattern by restoring her ankle mobility. Her journey will start with self myofascial release of lateral calf musculature with a foam roller, coupled with conscious breathing. Then dorsiflexion from half kneel corrective exercise will help restore her full range of ankle joint motion, followed by leg lock bridge and chop from half kneeling exercises to establish static motor control with this new range of motion. Finally she can apply dynamic motor control strategies, lunge with valgus correction or hip hinge on single leg with dowel, to make this honed pattern permanent. 

We will then retest Missy and see if we have made lasting improvement to this movement pattern. Most mobility changes happen quickly, it’s the motor learning process that can take time. This is where the real work happens. Through the FMS cycle of training, with each corrective exercise we are creating a positive short-term response. Each corrective strategy you perform wears away at your old habitual patterns and over time this work can transform a short-term response into a long term adaptation that changes the way your body moves, for good!

For Missy, bringing symmetry to her in-line lunge pattern could improve her squat patterning and shave time off her hikes! Her increased ankle mobility will translate into more fluidity in each powerful step she takes to reach her next summit. Missy just climbed Mt. Shavano, 14, 229 feet, her 12th 14er! We are going to apply the FMS corrective exercise continuum to her in-line lunge pattern and let you know how it goes in a few weeks. Until then, happy trails!


Categories: Training Tags: #fitness #functional movement #health