Never Miss a Powder Day: Get a Functional Movement Screen To Prevent Injuries

Winter is an incredible time of year in Colorado and is often the main reason so many people choose to live here.  World famous ski resorts are less than two hours away.  Snowshoers and cross-country skiers have access to amazing scenic trails.  Indoor and outdoor ice rinks seem to be popping up everywhere these days.  Unfortunately, we tend to see a significant number of injuries from all of these winter sports.  Lower body muscle weakness, balance deficits on slippery or unstable surfaces, and poor flexibility are major contributors to injuries.  Most commonly we tend to see a significant number of knee and shoulder injuries from winter sports that are result of falling or twisting awkwardly.  The rehab for these injuries tends to be costly both from a financial and time perspective.  It is not unusual for someone to miss the entire winter sports season from one injury.  But these injuries can be prevented.  The Functional Movement Screen (FMS) is designed to identify people who are at risk of injury from all types of winter sports.

What is the Functional Movement Screen?

The FMS is a tool that was developed in 1995 by physical therapist Gray Cook and his colleague Dr Lee Burton, a certified athletic trainer with a doctorate in health performance and wellness.  The screen looks at 7 different integral human movement patterns (i.e lunges, squats, stepping, etc) to identify dysfunctions or imbalances between right and left side of the body. Weakness, asymmetry between right and left side of body, and limited flexibility of muscles are common sources of musculoskeletal injury. Each of these seven movements are graded on a 0-3 scale with 3 being a normal/non-dysfunctional movement pattern and 0 indicating pain during the movement. At the end of the screen a score is calculated ranging from 0-21. The key score that the tester is looking for is 14 or less.  Some examples of the movements are shown below.    

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Low FMS Scorers Are 50% More Likely To Be Injured

Several studies have shown that if the FMS score is less than or equal to 14 then the probability of suffering an injury that would cause you to miss time at your sport increases by at least 50%. One study in particular studied 38 female collegiate athletes at the start of their fall or winter sport  and found that 69% of the athletes that scored 14 or less suffered an injury during the season that caused them to miss time at their particular sport1.  A 2nd study looked at an entire professional football team and again concluded that the key number for prediction of an injury was 14. The likelihood increased from a pre-test probability of injury of 15% to just over 50% when the player scored 14 or less2.


What do we do with the results of the screen?

The nice thing about the FMS is that we can use an advanced software program to create a specific home exercise program that is individualized to you based on your specific score and movement dysfunctions . This home exercise program is emailed directly to you with descriptive pictures and videos of each exercise. FMS clients often set up one-on-one physical therapy sessions with our physical therapists to review the exercises and address any pain or dysfunction that was encountered during the FMS.  The home exercise program and physical therapy visit is especially important for individuals that score 14 or less on the screen. Our PTs use information from the screen along with a thorough PT evaluation to create a custom workout that is specific to your winter sport.  Injury prevention is why the FMS is such a valuable tool for the winter athlete.

Example of Custom Home Exercise Program:


Where can someone get a Functional Movement Screen?

Our physical therapists at Therapydia Denver feel so strongly about the importance of the FMS in preventing injury that we have done over 140 free screens in the last 2 years.  We have worked with clients of all types including high school and college athletes, weekend warriors, and sedentary desk jockeys embarking on a new exercise program. The FMS is offered free of charge to all members of our friends at Vital Strength and Fitness gym in which our clinic is located.  We are now also offering the screen for free to members of the community when you mention this blog post.  Scheduling is easy through our website or by calling 303-482-1540.  We have wide range of available hours so you can complete the 20-30 minute screen when it is convenient to you. Don’t wait for an injury to happen this winter.  Be proactive and schedule your Functional Movement Screen today.