Functional Movement Screen, Selective Functional Movement Assessment, Rehabilitation, Athletes, FMS

Functional Movement Screen (FMS/SFMA)


FMS is the screening tool used to identify limitations or asymmetries in seven fundamental movement patterns that are key to functional movement quality in individuals with no current pain complaint or known musculoskeletal injury. 

These movement patterns are designed to provide an observable performance of basic locomotor, manipulative and stabilizing movements by placing an individual in extreme positions where weaknesses and imbalances become noticeable if appropriate mobility and motor control is not utilized. 

This screen is currently being used for pre-employment screenings and pre-participation screenings, locally and nationally.

When you start a fitness plan, it’s vital to be prepared. The Functional Movement Screen (FMS) evaluates whether your body is ready to take on a fitness plan, puts you on the road to genuine wellness, and tracks your progress along the way.  The FMS gives trainers consistent, unbiased feedback and measurable progress monitoring to hone in on what is working for clients and what’s not.

The Functional Movement Screen—FMS

The Functional Movement Screen (FMS) is the product of an exercise philosophy known as Functional Movement. This exercise philosophy and the corresponding set of resources are based on sound science, years of innovation and current research.

How it Works—Simplifying Movement

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.

Exercise professionals monitor the FMS score to track progress and to identify those exercises that will be most effective to restore proper movement and build strength in each individual.

What it Does—Widespread Benefits

The FMS simplifies the concept of movement and its impact on the body. Its streamlined system has benefits for everyone involved – individuals, exercise professionals, and physicians.

Communication—The FMS utilizes simple language, making it easy for individuals, exercise professionals, and physicians to communicate clearly about progress and treatment.

Evaluation—The screen effortlessly identifies asymmetries and limitations, diminishing the need for extensive testing and analysis.

Standardization—The FMS creates a functional baseline to mark progress and provides a means to measure performance.

Safety—The FMS quickly identifies dangerous movement patterns so that they can be addressed. It also indicates an individual’s readiness to perform exercise so that realistic goals can be set and achieved.

Corrective Strategies—The FMS can be applied at any fitness level, simplifying corrective strategies of a wide array of movement issues. It identifies specific exercises based on individual FMS scores to instantly create customized treatment plans.

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Call Virginia Sport & Spine Institute to see if you would benefit from an FMS screen from one of our performance coaches to advance you in your training, or an SFMA evaluation with one of our clinicians to identify the source of your pain or dysfunction.

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Selective FUnctional Movement Assessment (SFMA)


The SFMA is a movement based diagnostic system, designed to clinically assess 7 fundamental movement patterns in those with known musculoskeletal pain. The assessment provides an efficient method to systematically find the cause of symptoms, not just the source, by logically breaking down dysfunctional patterns and diagnosing their root cause as either a mobility problem or a stability/motor control problem. 

This systematic process allows the clinicians at Virginia Sport & Spine Institute to clearly match their intervention to the main problem of the patient. This model efficiently integrates the concepts of altered motor control, the neurodevelopmental perspective, and regional interdependence into musculoskeletal practice. 

This concept, known as Regional Interdependence, is the hallmark of the SFMA. For example, stiffness in the midback can cause the body to compensate and over-use the lower back to complete tasks like lifting and twisting. As clinicians, we commonly “chase pain” honing in on the lower back instead of looking away from that region for the root cause of the pain or limitations.

The assessment guides our clinician to the most dysfunctional non-painful movement pattern, which is then assessed in detail. This approach is designed to complement the existing exam and serve as a model to efficiently integrate the concepts of posture, muscle balance and the fundamental patterns of movement into musculoskeletal practice. By addressing the most dysfunctional non-painful pattern, the application of targeted interventions (manual therapy and therapeutic exercise) is not adversely affected by pain.

Clinical Application

The clinicians at VSSI will follow Clinical Predictive Rules and diagnosis-specific techniques before applying the SFMA model will allow for individualized exercise prescription and progression, which encompasses the concept of regional interdependence. As musculoskeletal system experts, it is essential that healthcare providers understand the relationships between body segments and how impairments in one body region may adversely affect function of another body region. Approaching therapeutic exercise prescription from a movement perspective model allows the concepts of muscle imbalance and regional interdependence to be addressed in a logical, methodical manner.

Considering Patterns of Movement

Normal movement is achieved through the integration of fundamental movement patterns with an adequate balance of mobility and stability to meet the demands of the task at hand.

The human system will migrate toward predictable patterns of movement in response to pain or in the presence of weakness, tightness, or structural abnormality. Over time, these pain-attenuated movement patterns lead to protective movement and fear of movement, resulting in clinically observed impairments such as decreased ROM, muscle length changes, and declines in strength. An isolated or regional approach to either evaluation or treatment will not restore whole function. Functional restoration requires a working knowledge of functional patterns and a map of dysfunctional patterns to gain clinical perspective and design an effective treatment strategy.

Contact us today to schedule your evaluation.