Movement Reserve and Functional Movement Screen (FMS) Scores
Well it’s good to see that some very respected ideas have the same view. What do you do to gage the buffer? How many points away from 21 is the FMS screen?
It is a good question and I don’t know that there is a specific answer given the numerous things that affect the athlete’s capacity. I don’t think that we could say it is just “one thing” or just the “FMS” score. Like saying, “If you have a 17 out of 21 you are golden”. There is a ton of complexity as far as the human body is concerned and, as I stated in the article, there are a number of things to look at and I think trying to measure those in some way is the key, as making improvements in all of them will help to improve the physiological buffer zone.
The FMS screen and the scoring numbers have come under fire lately in internet discussions and various blogs. The developers of the screen suggest a 14 or better out of 21 with no asymmetries or pain on the seven tests as the baseline to begin a more rigorous fitness program.
I don’t know that suggesting a 14 without movement asymmetries as the baseline is such a bad thing. It would mean that you are right in the middle of all of the tests, suggesting that you have adequate movement ability (per the screen).
I do use the FMS as part of my screening process prior to training. I’ll briefly cover some of the things that the screen means to me (as it seems to mean different things to different people and often gets wildly misrepresented by some trainers who use it inappropriately), talk about how it would fit into the idea of movement reserve, and give my own answers to some of the common arguments against the screen. Please keep in mind that I do not work for, am not paid by, and do not represent Functional Movement Systems. If you would like to hear their ideas on how they implement the screen and what it means to them I suggest taking one of their courses.
The screen itself
Many people have taken issue with the idea that seven tests, conducted in a very controlled manner (verse taking place in a dynamic environment like sport), can predict anything about the athlete.
From my understanding of the system, it was never suggested that the test was to be used as a stand-alone assessment. I am pretty sure that both Gray Cook and Lee Burton talk about how this only one part of the assessment and does not mean that you do not do other objective testing. Sports specific tests should still take place.
What the screen does for me is it helps answer the very simple question, “Does this hurt?”
Athletes are often highly motivated people who don’t always disclose when something is painful or hurts (especially when we are talking about dealing with a large team environment). I know there have been situations in college and professional team settings where you are 6 weeks into the training program and an athlete begins to complain of hip pain (or back pain, or knee pain). Upon further questioning about when the pain started to come on, the athlete states that, “Well, it has been hurting for the past 3 or 4 months but I thought that it would get better.”
Using the screen gives the athlete a chance to let you know that something hurts or has been hurting. Additionally, if something does hurt, we may see them alter the way they perform one of the seven movements, allowing us to ask further questions and dig a little deeper.
The test is there to make sure we don’t miss anything that may be going on that would influence our training program in a certain way. I don’t understand why people have such a problem gathering as much information as possible about the athlete to ensure that the right program is designed or to help ensure that the athlete gets the appropriate treatment?
Movement asymmetry and the FMS have been debated by many. I do agree that the body is asymmetrical in nature. This is something we know and many individuals argue that these “normal” asymmetries make the FMS a “waste of time” as we may end up wasting training time trying to focus on something that is normal for the individual or a normal adaptation for the given sport.
I think that the scoring for the seven tests does a good job of taking this into consideration. If you look at how the tests are scored, you will notice that it is really hard to get a “1″ and really hard to get a “3″ but there is a large variation that is acceptable for scoring a “2″.
Given this broad range of scoring for a “2″ it allows us to see the “white elephants”. What are the big restrictions? What are the glaring asymmetries that we might need to ask more questions about regarding why this may be happening and what the potential reasons for it are?
I believe this is right in line with the idea of being proactive rather than reactive. Training people with the blinders on usually ends up biting you in the butt somewhere down the line. The 8-10min. it takes to administer the test is time well spent if it gives you some valuable information that can help you avoid a train wreck later on.
Movement Reserve and FMS
Taking all of this into account, as well as taking into account the other factors (stress management and developing high levels of fitness) I think that the most important thing to do is to have some sort of screen (FMS or other) that helps you know if what you are doing is moving you in the right direction.
I don’t know that a specific FMS score would mean that you have a greater amount of buffer zone than someone else given the numerous factors that go into an injury, however, the training that you are doing should be striving to improve the screen that you use (and it should definitely not make it worse!). Like training for anything else – getting stronger, improving power, improving cardiovascular fitness – you have a way to measure these qualities and it is accepted that improving on your objective tests is a step in the right direction. The FMS (or whichever screening process you choose to use) should be no different.
Measure what is important to you and develop a program to improve it. The better you get in these qualities the better your buffer zone will be.