Importance of Functional Movement and Knowing Your Imbalances

Last week, I was one of the vendors at a local health and wellness fair.  At the table next to me was a physical therapy office performing free functional movement screens.

health fair

I watched as they tested strength, balance and core stability through a series of exercises.  I joked with them that I needed to have the test done but was afraid of what I would find!  I knew pregnancy had thrown my body out of whack, plus I always have tight hamstrings and calves.

When the evening was wrapping up, I ventured over.  They watched me do squats and lunges.  I had to step with one leg over a knee high rope without bumping it.  On all fours in my nice black pants and flats, I was supposed to shift my weight to the left with my right arm and leg raised, then switch.  They tested core strength with the bird dog and pushups with my thumbs up by my chin. We wrapped up with hamstring and calf flexibility. (You can see a complete list of the exercises here.)

Functional Movement Screenings

Yes, NJ Surf Fitness brought surf boards along, too!

Then it was time to tally the results.  A score under 14 suggests that you are at a higher risk of injury.  I squeaked by with exactly a 14! Obviously, I have some work to do.  My weaknesses include:

  • weak hips (pregnancy made this worse)
  • tight hips, hamstrings and calves (as evidenced by my struggle to do a deep squat with feet flat)
  • core could be stronger (again, worsened by pregnancy)

I feel like I do a lot of core exercises and I incorporate full body strength training at least twice a week so I didn’t like hearing that I wasn’t as strong as I thought. This was a good reminder how important it is to identify our imbalances so we can focus specifically on those.

I need to include more hip exercises (like these), work on calf and hamstring tightness with these tips to practice my deep squats, and add more variation in my core routine.

4 Benefits of a Functional Movement Screen (FMS)

Functional movements are considered the foundation to any sport or exercise.  Many individuals begin an exercise routine without identifying or understanding how capable their body is of the movement they are requiring of it. If you perform with dysfunctional movement, your abilities are impaired and you risk injury.

The FMS documents movement patterns critical to normal function.  It identifies muscle imbalances, tightness and weakness by examining the mobility and stability of the hips, core, knee, shoulders, spine and ankles. Rather than just looking at posture or flexibility, this test considers dynamic movements to identify how you move when in motion.


4 Benefits of a Functional Movement Screen

It’s not meant to be a diagnostic tool necessarily, but an objective assessment of how your body moves. If you’d like to have the test done, ask a local chiropractor, personal trainer or physical therapist if they are trained in the Functional Movement Screen.

Do you know your weaknesses?

Have you ever had a Functional Movement Screen done?


37 thoughts on “Importance of Functional Movement and Knowing Your Imbalances

  1. This is so interesting and I’m with you that more people should be doing this. For most people, imbalance causes your main injury issues. I know for me my imbalance comes from always having tight calf muscles. This causes my entire body to often times be sore.
    Hollie recently posted..Week 6: Recovery (37 miles)My Profile

  2. Oh Laura, you know I am ALLLLLLL about this! I had that huge assessment done at UVA, and it was 1 million times worth the money and the 6 hour drive there! It showed me so much, and I feel so much better already through strengthening the muscles that actually need to be, and not strengthening the areas that are already strong enough and in fact inhibiting my running! Glad you are on board!
    Tina Muir recently posted..Meatless Monday- Tempeh Rainbow Stir Fry with Thai Peanut DressingMy Profile

  3. I’m beginning to really understand my imbalances and weaknesses through yoga, and of course none of it surprises me, but I hadn’t been thinking that way before paying attention to it. Getting a real assessment would be interesting.

  4. I did a full screening last fall and wasn’t as imbalanced as I thought, but they did identify some weakness I’m working on. The worst news was that my shapely calves were due to my calves working too hard to make up for my weak ankles! 🙁
    Coco recently posted..Running In Golden Ponds ParkMy Profile

  5. Oh I definitely have weaknesses. I’ve had one of these done at my PT office too. I don’t recall my score, but definitely core, glutes and hips are all weak…and like you said not really a surprise because of having children. I haven’t been able to get my core back despite a million planks!

  6. All runners need this type of assessment! And we all have so many common spots of weakness (hell hips). I, too, am bad at getting into that deep squat with heels on the floor. It’s so frustrating! Great reminder to keep at all the extras we need to do!
    misszippy recently posted..Just like that, running surprises youMy Profile

  7. As part of my new member orientation at my gym, we had an FMS done. I wasn’t at all surprised by my weak core or tight hamstrings. I couldn’t get off the floor for the pushup lol! But now I have my correctives and in the two months I’ve been there, my core is sooooo much stronger. Lots and lots of foam rolling also helps 😉 I’m hoping for a good amount of progress when I’m re-screened in a couple more months!
    Stephanie recently posted..Mayhem Monday: Return of the R. I. C. E.My Profile

  8. love that you were a vendor, I would love to do that as a health coach.
    I definitely think it would be interesting to get this done, I have so many imbalances!

  9. I would love to take this test! I know that I have imbalances with my hips which came out with a knee injury during marathon training. After taking months off and really focusing on hip exercises I am able to run again, however I am guilty of slacking off the exercises not that I am “better.”

  10. I haven’t done a functional movement screen but I’ve done some of my own tests using the book Anatomy for Runners, and I know I’d fail the test you had! I am battling a sciatic nerve issue right now and I KNOW it’s from inflexibility/imbalance. 🙁
    jan recently posted..How’s Your Memory?My Profile

  11. Such a great reminder to continue with strength training! I’ve been working on hip mobility and core strength on my own but a test like this would be extremely helpful to point out what needs work.
    Angie @ A Mother’s Pace recently posted..No Excuses!My Profile

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