What’s Up with this Movement Screening?

We get asked all the time…

What’s up with the movement screen, and how is it going to help me?  Why should we waste our time to do this every couple of months?

These are great questions, so we want to explain in depth a little further to help you better understand.

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A good way to explain the screen is to relate it to something completely unrelated to fitness. This little example should help paint a better picture and give a more clear understanding of the Functional Movement Screen.

Think about it like this…

You’re in a race to win $1,000,000.  That’s one million dollars – a substantial grand prize, to say the least! In order to win the race, you have to be first across the finish line.  Makes sense, right?  We’re all pretty familiar with how a race works.  Cross the line first and you win!  BOOM…ONE MILLION DOLLARS in your pocket.

Now, here are the details of the race.

You’ll be chasing the million dollar prize by completing against nine other people to complete a 10 mile canoe race! Only one of you will get the million dollar prize.  The canoes are all lined up at the shore.  The huge prize has drawn hundreds of people to watch.  The energy is high…you’re nervous as hell…you have butterflies in your stomach.


The gun sounds and the race begins.  You charge forward in a mad frenzy to get to a canoe on the shoreline.  You want to be the first so you can hop in and take the quick lead.  After all…this is a million dollar prize, and winning such a huge prize would change your life.  Think about it.  How would a million bucks change your life?  Pretty substantially, right?

So, you make it down to the shore first and hop into your canoe of choice.  You’re feeling pretty good about yourself right about now.  You hit your first goal of getting to the shoreline first and have the lead.  You get in your canoe and begin paddling like mad.  Water is splashing in your face because you’re paddling so hard.  Your heart is beating out of your chest with excitement.  Needless to say…you’re feeling good about your odds of taking home the million dollar prize.

And then, just like that…you notice you have two substantial leaks in the boat.  The leaks have been there the whole time, but in such a mad race to be the first…you picked the canoe with a couple holes in the bottom.

Now, you have to keep paddling like hell because you’re still in a race.  You still have the lead, so now it’s time to assess the situation and start figuring out a plan.  That million dollars is so close you can taste it.

After all the splashing, and water coming in through the bottom of the canoe, you decide you have to start emptying the water with the little pail that just so happened to be in the canoe at the start of the race.  Now you’re paddling away.  You’re breathing heavy and working like mad to continue your pace to win the race.  Half way to the finish, you realize that the others are starting to gain ground on you.  You’re beginning to lose your lead and now you begin to fear you may not win the million dollar prize.

Finally, your boat begins to sink.  You can’t seem to pail the water out that’s coming in from the floor.  The mad pace you were pushing to win the race has only led to more water coming in the canoe.  You realize you’re fighting a never ending battle.  You pail more water, but the only thing that happens is that more water comes in the canoe.  To make a long story a little shorter…your boat sinks and you’re out of the race.  The million dollar prize is lost.  BUMMER!

Now how does this example of a canoe race relate to the Functional Movement Screen?

The movement screen is a quick analysis to make sure you’re choosing the right things to help get you to your goal.  It makes a ton of sense that in order to win the canoe race, you should choose the canoe with no holes in it, right?  If you would have slowed down for just a second to analyze your gear before taking the plunge and hopping right in, you would have had a much greater chance of success.  9 of the 10 canoes had holes in them; however, there was one canoe that was flawless and had zero holes.  There was no pail in that canoe.  The sign was there, but in the excitement of winning the million dollars, you overlooked the canoe without a pail.  You didn’t even realize you were embarking on a mission that was designed for failure.  The boat had holes.  You’ll never win the race if you have holes in your canoe, but your opponent doesn’t.  After all, that’s an unfair advantage.

We all have our one million dollar prize that we’re chasing.  Maybe you want to lose 10,20,50, or even 100 lbs.  That’s your million dollar prize.  That’s what you’re excited about and are working to achieve.  Don’t you think it would be wise to check your canoe?  A quick evaluation would have led you to find out that your canoe is going to sink.

Your body is your canoe.  It’s all we have to get us to achieving our goals.  With a proper analysis, we would have been able to make each stroke of the paddle moving us in the direction of our goal.  The movement screen is what helps keep you afloat.  It gives us the information needed to make sure we’re successful.

The Functional Movement Screen isn’t there to restrict you from doing anything.  It’s there to protect you from yourself.  You may not even know you have holes in your armor until the screen points it out.  The FMS will help keep you healthy and injury free.  The FMS will help break through plateaus.  You won’t always be fighting to pail the water out of a never ending stream of water coming in.  The FMS will help make all of your effort go into something productive and always moving efficiently.  If you don’t have to battle the water coming in, you’ll be able to put more effort into each stroke of the paddle.

Simply put…the Functional Movement Screen is there to help us determine the best method to get that million dollars.  I’d rather spend a little time patching a hole before I got in the water instead of fighting to stay afloat.  A little observation and preparation can take you from failure to success.  Hopefully this little analogy helps paint a better picture of why we use the FMS.  It’s all about longevity and attaining goals.  That’s it.  Nothing more.  Stay healthy, stay strong, and make all the energy expended moving you toward your goals rather than just staying afloat and moving nowhere.

Jared Woolever

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