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

Functional Movement Screen (FMS) Research Update

A couple of recent new FMS related studies to review before year’s end.  For previous reviews see Functional Movement Screen 2011 Summary and More Functional Movement Screen Research.

1)  Lisman P, O'Connor FGDeuster PA, Knapik JJ.  Functional Movement Screen and Aerobic Fitness Predict Injuries in Military Training.  Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2012 Nov 27. [Epub ahead of print]

This is a companion study to a previous FMS study on Marine Corps officer candidates.(O’Connor (2012)).  Like the previous work, this study looked at 874 male officer candidates enrolled in either the six or ten week courses.  The six week students are typically college sophomores and juniors who complete two six week stints in back to back summers.  Researchers studied whether FMS scores and PFT (physical fitness test scores) correlated with injury.  Note the PFT includes max pull ups (20 for perfect score), crunches (100 max), and 3 mile run (18:00 max, with ten point deductions for each ten seconds slower than the max score).  


-Candidates with run time slower 20:30 were 1.7 times more likely to suffer injury (injuries were classified as overuse, traumatic, and other injury)

- Running time slower than 20:30 and FMS less than or equal to 14 increased injury risk by 4.2 times

-Prior injury, frequency of exercise and sport participation, length of running history were predictive of injuries

-Run time was the only PFT test score related to injury.  The only PFT test correlated with FMS score was the pull up; showing a slight correlation to four of the seven FMS tests.  This is not entirely surprising as nearly everyone scores 100 on the crunches.


Fitness and movement both play a role in preventing injuries, especially in a setting in which training is not individualized.  When training gravitates toward the average performers or is tailored to the fittest, the fittest individuals can work longer within their adaptive reserves.  We may theorize that to a point, those with better aerobic systems can recover faster, though that specific claim is beyond the scope of the study.  The lack of correlation between pull up strength and injury might surprise some, but with most injuries are lower extremity repetitive use, upper body strength becomes less discriminating.      

2) Palmer TG, Howell D, Mattacola CG, Viele K.  Self-perceptions of Proximal Stability as Measured by the Functional Movement Screen.  J Strength Cond Res. 2012 Nov 30. [Epub ahead of print]

This study is less about the FMS and more about the effect of self-perception on proximal stability in general.  Authors studied 28 female Division II collegiate athletes (soccer and volleyball).  Subjects went through the FMS and rated their own proximal stability perception before and after FMS screening.  (Step 1: preliminary self-assessemnt; Step 2: FMS; Step 3, post self-assessment)


-Self-perception increased after doing the test.  (“Self-perceptions of proximal stability in female athletes were influenced by experiencing a test that stressed the proximal stabilizers….Four qualitative themes emerged  1. wanting to do well, 2. expectations of performance, 3. focused mental mindset, and 4. body control.")

-Pre test scores were poorly correlated with FMS scores, but post-test scores showed a moderately high correlation to the FMS


This study does not seem to be about the FMS itself, but rather the FMS is one standardized measure of proximal stability.  That said, one possible undertone is a suspicion shared by some that “Getting to know the test better” might change FMS score.  But since there was no FMS-retest, that is just pure speculation.  This study would also would be interesting to repeat on males given the noted difference in male and female athlete psychology. (see also, The Functional Movement Screen and Female Athletes)


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