Screening athletes for the purposes of identifying at-risk individuals for future injury is a hot topic in the field of strength and conditioning. A variety of movement screens and symmetry tests have been developed. Possibly the most well-known of these screens is the Functional Movement Screen (FMS). The FMS is comprised of a series of seven movements that are graded on a 0-3 point scale with each score representing the following:
0 = any report of pain from the athlete during the movement
1 = incorrect movement but no pain
2 = near correct movement with no pain
3 = correct movement with no pain
The scores for each movement are totalled for a score out of a potential 21 points. It is thought that a score of <14 is a strong predictor of future injury. Studies evaluating the efficacy this claim have produced mixed results.
A recent study published in this month’s issue of the Journal of Sports Science and Medicine prospectively assessed the usefulness of the FMS and various anthropometric and performance tests in female soldiers involved in intense physical training. A total of 158 subjects participated in this study and submitted to evaluation before and after a 3 month training program. The evaluations include the FMS, body fat percentage, aerobic fitness (2 km time to completion run), counter-movement jump, single-leg triple-hop and a 10 m sprint.
Statistical analyses showed that an FMS scores <14 was not a significant predictor of injury over the 3 month period. However, the researchers did find that females who scored more “0’s” on the screen (indicative of painful movement) were significantly more likely to experience injury. Body fat percent, fitness and the single leg hop tests were each independent significant predictors of injury.
Though more research is required (as is always the case), there are a few important take-homes from this study. For example, pain during basic movement patterns such as those used in the FMS is a big warning sign of future injury and thus these athletes should be treated and monitored accordingly. Additionally, less fit athletes (based on both aerobic fitness and leanness) are at a higher risk of injury than their leaner and more aerobically fit counterparts. Therefore, these athletes may require lower training loads and longer general physical preparation phases to prepare them for more intensified training periods.
Einat Kodesh, Eyal Shargal, Rotem Kislev-Cohen, Shany Funk, Lev Dorfman, Gil Samuelly, Jay R. Hoffman, Nurit Sharvit, (2015) Examination of the Effectiveness of Predictors for Musculoskeletal Injuries in Female Soldiers. Journal of Sports Science and Medicine (14), 515 – 521.