Athletic development specialists dedicated to the art and science of excellence in movement

Functional Movement Screen Fall 2013 Research Updates

Some new FMS related research to report from the past few months.  For previous updates, please see the Functional Movement Screen see...

1) Parenteau-G E, Gaudreault N, Chambers S, Boisvert C, Grenier A, Gagné G, Balg F.  Functional movement screen test: A reliable screening test for young elite ice hockey players.  Phys Ther Sport. 2013 Oct 14. pii: S1466-853X(13)00102-8. doi: 10.1016/j.ptsp.2013.10.001. [Epub ahead of print]

Similar to previous research on intra and inter rater reliability.  Screeners administered the FMS on 28 youth hockey players.  One pair of screeners administered the FMS in the field to assess inter rater reliability.  A second pair administered the FMS twice over video six weeks apart to assess intra rater reliability.    Authors noted, “the video raters demonstrated excellent intra-rater reliability for the total score…The field raters achieved excellent inter-rater reliability for the total score.  However, agreement was not perfect, as “sub-test analysis showed good agreement among all four raters for five of the seven main sub-tests.” 

This research is consistent with prior work showing strong overall inter and intra rater reliability but potential inconsistency in individual screens.  Though there are acknowledged gaps in the research on the FMS applied to youth, this study did not explore injury prediction value.


2)  Kiesel KB, Butler RJ, Plisky PJ.  J Sport Rehabil. 2013 Nov 14. [Epub ahead of print]  Limited and Asymmetrical Fundamental Movement Patterns Predict Injury in American Football Players.

Continuing the lineage of FMS study in the NFL, Kiesel (2013) performed screens on 238 NFL players before pre-season training camp.  Consistent with prior work, results showed an elevated risk of injury with scores equal to or below 14.  However, this research is among the newest to validate the claim that at least one asymmetry will also elevate injury risk.  This study adds weight to the teaching that the “standard” on the FMS is a score of 14 or greater with no asymmetries. (But remember that FMS score is simply one part of the overall injury prediction criteria with training load and sport specific biomechanics also playing roles in risk analysis).    



Studied two groups of MMA athletes.  One group trained as normal, the experimental group added a corrective exercise program four times per week.  Authors assessed progress at four weeks and eight weeks. 


  • a significant increase in the intervention groups FMS score between weeks 0-8 and weeks 0-4, BUT no significant increase between weeks 4-8,
  • the intervention group participants [was] more likely to have an FMS score >14 than participants in the control group, at week 4 and week 8  
  • a greater number of participants in the intervention group were free from asymmetry at week 4 and week 8 compared to the initial test period.

Take home points: Don’t need to be in corrective mode endlessly.  If so, you either missed something or you have a very tough case. 


4)  Frost DM, Beach TA, Callaghan JP, McGill SM.J Strength Cond Res. 2013 Nov 20. [Epub ahead of print]  FMS™ scores change with performers' knowledge of the grading criteria - Are general whole-body movement screens capturing "dysfunction"?

Probably the most controversial of the recent publications…

This study did two versions of FMS screens on 21 firefighters.  One version screened “by the book” exact instructions and no more.  The second version offered coaching/feedback on the movements.  Not surprisingly, the version with coaching did better than the version with no coaching.

Personal opinion…while some have used this to attack the screen’s validity, problems can easily be avoided by staying “by the book.”  I say “by the book” because the screen instructions/scripts are easily accessible in the Movement text.

Again, this is just an opinion, but this study falls into a similar category with those studies “finding” no connection between the screen and performance (a connection should never be postulated in the first place).  Here, it should come as no surprise that coaching a move results in better scores. 

The instructions exist for a reason: to be followed.  Now, some might wonder why detailed instructions are followed: standardization (do it the same way each time) and validation (you can’t validate something as effective if it is done differently each time). 

Now, it is certainly a valid argument that patterns labeled dysfunctional might not be dysfunctional if the poor result is merely through misunderstanding.  However, given the body of reliability studies that have accumulated following the proper instruction language and protocol, more than one study is required to establish any unreliability in the screening instructions.  Additionally, cognition and sensory processing are also parts of movement…how the subject performs according to standardized and validated instructions is revealing about movement patterns along the established baseline.    


5)  Lehr ME, Plisky PJ, Butler RJ, Fink ML, Kiesel KB, Underwood FB.  Field-expedient screening and injury risk algorithm categories as predictors of noncontact lower extremity injury.  Scand J Med Sci Sports. 2013 Aug;23(4):e225-32. doi: 10.1111/sms.12062. Epub 2013 Mar 20.

Not specifically an FMS study but one in which the FMS played a role.  Authors tested “an injury prediction algorithm that incorporates movement screening performance, demographic information, and injury history can accurately categorize risk of noncontact lower extremity (LE) injury.”  Movement screening included the Y balance test in addition to the FMS.  Authors found that “Athletes identified as High Risk [based on the algorithm] were at a greater risk of noncontact LE injury during the season….These results suggest that an injury prediction algorithm composed of performance on efficient, low-cost, field-ready tests can help identify individuals at elevated risk of noncontact LE injury.”  Future research in this area will continue incorporating the FMS as one of multiple factors that may affect injury risk.