The Importance of Functional Movement Screening

When it comes to athletes – professional and amateur alike – they often invest a lot of money in the gear and equipment they use for their sport. They get the best shoes for running, the best bikes for riding, and the best clubs for golfing. While having solid gear is important, many often purchase bigger, better gear in hopes of increasing their performance. Unfortunately, most athletes fail to recognize that the equipment is only as good as the body that uses it.

functional movement screening, sports therapyIf you are an athlete, how much money have you spent on gear over the years? My guess is that it’s easily in the thousands of dollars. Over the same time, how much money have you spent on your body? My guess is probably a small fraction of what you have spent on your gear, if any at all. You can get the best gear in the world, but you won’t get optimal performance out of it without a properly functioning body.

One of the things we do with many of our patients is perform a comprehensive medical and functional exam. It lets us know if your body is moving properly or if there is some dysfunction happening. If there is dysfunction, even if it’s minimal, it can have a huge effect on your performance. Here is a brief overview of the tests we perform.

Posture Screening – Posture directly relates to strength and force. If your posture is off, it’s going to have a dramatic effect on how you are performing. We check to see if it’s in a natural and safe position or if there is something going on to affect your posture.

Muscle Testing – We first see if there is any pain in the muscles. People often visit us because they are experiencing some kind of muscle pain, so it’s a natural first place to start. We also check to make sure muscles are firing in the right order. For example, if the hamstring is working harder than the glute and isn’t firing in the right order, the potential for tearing the hamstring is really high.

Movement Pattern – This is testing to see if your body performs movements normally, or if there are compensation patterns that are potentially harmful. For example, if we ask a patient to do a standing toe touch and notice that every time he or she bends over the hips rotate to the right, that can show some dysfunction in the movement pattern. If they ride mountain or rode bikes often, this same rotation of the hips to the right is probably happening every time they are sitting on a bike.

This can cause a significant loss of power, or even create a situation where they might injure something.

Medical Exam – we also take a look at joint structure of our patients. We analyze the joints to make sure they are in the right position and are moving properly. Essentially, we are making sure the joint is doing its job in the way it’s intended.

Since every patient is different, there are other tests we can perform as well dive deeper into an issue. For example, we might perform a lab test on someone who seems to be healthy externally, but is still struggling with his or her performance. This can give us an idea of how things are functioning internally, and we can go from there. I wrote a blog about Functional Medicine. 

One of my favorite quotes is from one of Stuart McGill books, in which he says, “You can’t fire a cannon from a canoe.”

You have to have a stable body in order to be able to perform at your best. If you go out and try to shoot a cannon (perform at a high level), but your body is unstable like a canoe, it’s not going to go well. Unfortunately, most people are looking for a bigger cannon, but what they really need to do is build their body into a stable ship first. You can spend lots of money on the lightest, best, and strongest equipment, but if the body that uses the equipment is weak or dysfunctional, that equipment will never get used to its full potential.

The great part about stabilizing and optimizing your body is that you will be better equipped to perform at a higher level, and that is worth more than any amount of gear you can buy.

If you want to learn more about a Functional Movement Screening or would like to schedule one with us, please call us at 949-916-9742. 

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