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Functional movement assessment and screens have been widely used by physical rehabilitation clinicians and are a great way to gather information about your physical health. These types of movement based tests can even help guide treatment planning and exercise prescription that can help restore optimal physical health or athletic performance.
Functional movement screens help flag for risk of injuries and are often performed on a healthy or asymptomatic population. Whereas, functional movement assessments are typically used to diagnose the cause of dysfunctional movement patterns which often lead to injury.
Successful performance of functional movement assessments requires a combination of adequate stability/strength, motor control, mobility/flexibility and proprioception/balance. Deficiency in any of these areas may lead to sub-optimal or potentially injury provoking movement patterns.
There are many reasons why someone would develop poor movement patterns in the first place. This could be a result of a sedentary lifestyle, poor posture, lack of ergonomic consideration in the workplace, previous history of injury, etc.
Its worth noting the cyclical nature of an injury. As previously mentioned, an injury can cause poor movements and poor movements can lead to recurrences of the your injury or the development of new injuries. This could be a very problematic cycle that may lead to fear of movement or chronic pain. Learning how to move properly can aid in a sustained recovery from an injury and prevent the likelihood of new one’s developing.
Although, some people will notice that the quality of their movements degrade over time, most specific compensatory or faulty movements require the expert eye of an experienced physical rehabilitation clinician like a physical therapist or kinesiologist to properly assess. After a professional consultation, corrective exercises specifically tailored to the needs of your body and complimentary to your work, sport, or recreation can be prescribed. Movement IS medicine!
An early dose of functional movement can limit the need for pharmaceutical or surgical intervention as well as their negative side effects.
Here are just a few functional movements assessments you can try to see how you do:
- Stand with both feet shoulder with apart.
- Extend both arms directly above your head while holding a dowel.
- Initiate squatting movement by flexing both hips and knees.
- Keep both feet in full contact with the ground and parallel to each other.
- Prevent both knees from moving forward beyond the vertical plane above your toes and keep them the same distance apart.
- Keep your hands and dowel directly over your head during the squatting movement.
- Arms and shins must remain parallel to each other by preventing arms from moving forward excessively.
- Hips must lower to the level of your knees prior to reversing the movement by standing again.
- Stand with your feet close together, making contact with each other.
- Keep your arms by your side.
- While keeping your feet planted, rotate your trunk and pelvis so that you can look directly behind you.
- Hold rotated position for three seconds minimum.
- Perform movement once in each direction.
- Evaluate self performance by standing facing away from a mirror.
- Rotate until you can see your shoulder that is furthest away in the mirror.
- Your feet must remain planted, stuck together, and pointed away from the mirror at all times.
- Avoid forcing your shoulder forward into your line of sight by either swinging your arm forward or pushing your shoulder blade forward.
- Approximately half of your rotation has to occur from your pelvis and the other half from your trunk.
Single Leg Stand with Eyes Closed
- Start with standing with both feet shoulder width apart.
- Stand on one foot by raising the opposite knee forward and up, achieving ninety degrees of hip and knee flexion.
- Close your eyes once you are comfortable and steady in single leg standing position.
- Keep both arms at your side.
- You must stand on one foot without losing balance for a minimum of 10 seconds.
- Avoid excessive arm and trunk movements.
- Keep both legs slightly apart without allowing your knees to touch each other.
There are a variety of treatment options to help restore optimal functional movement patterns. Upcoming articles will detail corrective exercises to improve the performance of these functional movement assessments.
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Credit is due to the work and teachings of Gray Cook, physical therapist and functional movement guru. His work has changed the way I’ve practiced for nearly a decade.