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Building Resilience, Preventing Injury: The Utility of Movement Screening

In the realms of longevity and sports performance, injury can derail the pursuit of optimal physical condition. Athletes, fitness enthusiasts, and even those engaging in routine physical activities are vulnerable to strains, sprains, and more severe injuries. Niggling pains can erode quality of life and impair one’s ability to train.  Movement quality is an underappreciated but crucial aspect of recovering from a setback and bullet-proofing your body against future injury.  Improving movement quality also unlocks improved performance potential, by eliminating the waste of energy-inefficient movements and muscle-fatiguing compensatory patterns.  

There are many ways to assess movement quality, but I have lately embraced the Functional Movement Screen (FMS) for its simplicity, validity and ability to direct intervention and track progress.  With its roots deeply embedded in understanding human movement patterns, the FMS has emerged as a pivotal instrument in building resilience and thwarting injuries.  Since movement (and therefore movement quality) is a keystone component of my approach to longevity, movement screening holds relevance for all my patients, whether or not one is a competitive athlete.

A Historical Perspective:

The inception of the Functional Movement Screen can be traced back to the early 1990s when physical therapist Gray Cook, along with Lee Burton and colleagues, began exploring a systematic approach to assess movement patterns. Their aim was to identify dysfunctions and asymmetries that could predispose individuals to injuries. This led to the birth of FMS, a comprehensive screening tool designed to evaluate fundamental movement patterns.

Validation in Research Studies:

The efficacy of the Functional Movement Screen has been a subject of rigorous scrutiny in numerous research endeavors.  Research has highlighted the FMS's role in identifying asymmetries and movement imbalances, which are often precursors to musculoskeletal injuries.  Several studies have corroborated its utility in predicting injury risk and enhancing performance across various demographics. A systematic review and meta-analysis of 9 studies assessing the injury predictive value of the FMS found that athletes with scores of less than or equal to 14 (out of 21) had 2.74 times increased risk of injury.  

Understanding Scoring and Usage:

The Functional Movement Screen comprises seven fundamental movement patterns, namely the deep squat, hurdle step, inline lunge, shoulder mobility, active straight-leg raise, trunk stability push-up, and rotary stability. Each movement is scored on a scale from 0 to 3, based on the presence of compensations or asymmetries. A cumulative score out of 21 is then derived, providing insights into an individual's movement quality and potential injury risk.  If you want the full details, check out this short explanation from the folks at FMS.

The utility of the FMS extends beyond mere assessment; it serves as a roadmap for designing targeted interventions and corrective strategies. By pinpointing specific movement deficiencies, fitness professionals and healthcare practitioners can tailor exercise regimens to address underlying issues and bolster functional capacity. Moreover, the FMS facilitates communication between different stakeholders, fostering a multidisciplinary approach to injury prevention and rehabilitation.

I believe one of the great values added by FMS is the feedback generated by repeated screening.  I was really motivated to improve my score when I first had it done on me and received the at-risk-for-injury mark of 14.  By repeating assessments, we can track recovery and rehabilitation from injury, as well as gauge the effectiveness of interventions or the deterioration of movement patterns brought on by training loads.  (I’m now up to 17.)

Building Resilience through Functional Movement:

At its core, the Functional Movement Screen embodies a proactive approach to health and fitness, emphasizing prevention over treatment. This resonates with me and aligns with my practice philosophy.  By identifying movement dysfunctions early on, individuals can embark on a journey towards enhanced resilience and longevity in physical endeavors. Through targeted interventions, such as mobility drills, corrective exercises, and neuromuscular training, individuals can address underlying imbalances and fortify their bodies against potential injuries.  As such, it fits in well with the proactive approach to health I take with my patients.  It may be more challenging to find motivation for preventative behaviors, but anyone who’s had an injury or a disease will tell you that if they knew how they could have prevented it, they would have.

If you want to get screened, you can find a certified FMS professional in your area by searching here.  But if you want to do something that doesn’t require another person, check out the Koji Awareness Self-Screening test.  It’s free and you can do it at home by yourself.

Koji Awareness Self-Screening Test: A Complementary Approach to Functional Movement Assessment

In recent years, alongside the Functional Movement Screen (FMS), another intriguing tool has garnered attention in the realm of movement assessment: the Koji Awareness Self-Screening Test. Developed by movement specialist Koji Minagawa, this self-screening test offers a unique perspective on body awareness and movement proficiency.

Understanding Koji Awareness Self-Screening Test:

Unlike traditional movement screens that rely on external observation or assessment by a practitioner, the Koji Awareness Self-Screening Test places the individual in the driver's seat. It empowers individuals to explore their own movement patterns and body awareness through a series of guided exercises and self-assessments. By heightening proprioceptive awareness and mindfulness of movement, the test aims to uncover subtle imbalances and dysfunctions that may evade conventional assessment methods.

Integration with Functional Movement Screen:

While the Functional Movement Screen provides a comprehensive evaluation of fundamental movement patterns, the Koji Awareness Self-Screening Test offers a complementary approach by delving deeper into the intricacies of body awareness and neuromuscular control. By incorporating both assessments into a holistic movement screening protocol, practitioners can gain a more nuanced understanding of an individual's movement capabilities and potential areas for improvement.

Benefits of Koji Awareness Self-Screening Test:

One of the primary advantages of the Koji Awareness Self-Screening Test lies in its emphasis on self-awareness and active participation in the screening process. By engaging individuals in self-exploration and reflection, the test fosters a sense of agency and ownership over one's movement journey. Moreover, the exercises included in the test are designed to enhance kinesthetic awareness, proprioception, and motor control, which are essential components of functional movement proficiency.

Synergy in Injury Prevention and Performance Optimization:

When combined with the Functional Movement Screen, the Koji Awareness Self-Screening Test contributes to a comprehensive approach to injury prevention and performance optimization. By identifying both macroscopic movement patterns and subtle neuromuscular imbalances, practitioners can tailor interventions and corrective strategies to address the multifaceted aspects of movement dysfunction. This synergistic approach not only reduces the risk of injuries but also enhances overall movement efficiency and performance potential.

The Koji Awareness Self-Screening Test offers a valuable adjunct to conventional screening methods, tapping into the realm of self-awareness and proprioceptive feedback. By empowering individuals to become active participants in their movement journey, this self-screening test transcends traditional paradigms of assessment and opens new avenues for holistic movement optimization. The Koji Awareness test has been validated and correlates with FMS but there appears to be less research around how to interpret scores or use them to guide training or treatment.  Research supports aiming for an FMS score of 15 or greater.  A Koji score of 37.6 (plus or minus 6.7) was equal to an FMS score of 16 (plus or minus 2) in one study.  Looking a the data from that study, I would advise trying to get your Koji score equal to or greater than 30.  If you want to try it for yourself, the exercises can be found here and a scoring sheet here.


In a world where physical activity is integral to overall well-being, injury prevention is paramount. The Functional Movement Screen offers a systematic framework to evaluate movement quality and mitigate injury risks. Its integration into fitness programs, sports training protocols, and healthcare settings supports an emphasis on proactive healthcare and performance optimization. As we navigate the intricacies of human movement, screening and correction of dysfunctional movement can empower individuals to move towards greater resilience, efficiency, and well-being in motion.


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