I tried, believe me I did, to not take the bait.
But when a I see a post on Facebook for an article titled “I HATE the Functional Movement Screen“, I couldn’t help myself from responding. As someone who has used the FMS for years with great success and teaches for Functional Movement, I feel the truth must be told before people accept this stuff as factual. Here is the article in case you’re interested:
The arguments I’ve all heard before and are not unique or original, just weak and unfounded (Not to mention a grammatical nightmare). I’ve categorized them and attached some of the author’s quotes:
(quotes from the article are in italics)
The “FMS Guy” Argument – “what all you FMS people said...”
Funny, I’ve been a lead instructor for FMS since 2006, I don’t remember saying, nor do I remember Gray Cook, Lee Burton, Brett Jones or any of the other founders of the FMS saying that the FMS was “the latest greatest tool to help make super athletes” or that it “fixes” anything. Which “FMS people” would you be referring to?
Personally I guess I’m an “FMS guy”. I’m also a “Poliquin guy”, “Chek guy”, “Westside guy”, “Siff guy”, “Verkoshanksy guy”, “Zatsiorsky guy”, “Fleck and Kraemer guy”, “Janda guy”, “Sahrmann guy” and a “whole bunch of other really smart people I’ve learned from and studied under guy”. Since they all taught me great stuff I thought it might be cool to incorporate them ALL into my training.
I’ve trained thousands of professionals over the years in the FMS who were chiropractors, physical therapists, strength coaches, acupuncturists, kettlebell specialists, pilates and yoga instructors, sports medicine doctors, sport skill coaches, CrossFit trainers, athletic trainers, personal trainers, group fitness instructors and more, and I’m quite sure that none of them went back after them course and threw away everything that they learned to do only “FMS stuff” (whatever the hell that is).
The Functional Movement Screen simply grades movement quality to determine if the individual may have a potentially higher risk for injury and/or where on the training continuum an individual is prepared to participate. It doesn’t tell you whether you’re a great athlete or not, nice person or not, or if you are anything but dysfunctional to an accepted standard.
When the nurse in you’re doctor’s office checks your blood pressure, the cuff doesn’t tell you if you need to stop smoking, manage your stress better or stop eating fatty foods, it just tells you if your blood pressure is high or not relative to accepted standards. It is not something that you “believe in” like the Easter Bunny or Santa Claus. It is just a gauge to filter out people who may be at risk. Maybe I should write a blog post titled “I HATE blood pressure testing!”
The “Famous people who use the FMS get hurt, so it must not work” Argument – “The spokes team for the FMS, the Indy Colts, have led the league in injuries the past couple years…”
In case you’re not familiar with the NFL, here is a brief summary: Giant, angry, really athletic men run full speed and crash into other giant, angry, really athletic men for 3 hours straight. Big fat guys roll back into your knees, helmets hit you in the ribs, ankles get stepped on, you get twisted under piles and you can get launched off your cleats when you’re not looking. It is a brutal sport that has an injury rate of 100% with a wide range of severity and unfortunately much of which you can not control.
I’ve personally worked with 4 NFL teams incorporating the FMS system. On top of all of the danger I’ve listed above, you know why corrective exercise can’t always prevent injury in these players? They don’t always do it.
Yes, I’ve had great feedback in working with countless individuals who have had excellent results and saying that their bodies feel better, move more effectively and dynamically and no longer get nagging soft tissue tweaks as they have in the past. But truth be told, I’ve also had just as many, if not more, who didn’t do a damned thing and would put no time or effort into doing any corrective exercise work. Unfortunately the FMS doesn’t cure laziness either.
Injuries are also multi-factorial so it is impossible to completely “know” how a non-contact injury occurs. One thing we do know however, is that in published, peer-reviewed research, it has been shown that athletes who score poorly on the FMS (below 14) have a much higher likelihood for injury. Here is a link to the FMS research review in case you’re inclined: http://functionalmovement.com/files/articles/304a_rjb%20fms%20lit%20review%20final%20rev%208.7.12.pdf
The “Shut Up and Train You Wimp” Argument – “Pavel has said, “you can only do so many corrective exercises, at some point in time you gotta get under a bar” and “Ill listen to people who have at least been under the bar. Yes the developers of the FMS are smarter than me but no where as strong nor have they produced the results in performance that i have”
I’ll be the first to admit that a Side-Lying Rib Pull is nowhere near bad ass and no one ever puked doing a Leg Lowering exercise. Does that mean they are not useful or can’t make someone better?
OK, for your argument’s sake, let’s say they do nothing and are totally unnecessary. Just get under the bar right?
Well, what if I get under the bar with no weight on it, is that good or bad? When does it officially become cool or productive, when 3 plates go on each side? (Affectionately known in our facility as the “Baloney Sandwich”, but I digress). What if I can’t lift 315lbs, am I not allowed to work out? What if I want to someday lift 315, but I can’t now, what do I do? If you’re answer is to start with what your capable of and work up in a progression, it sounds eerily similar to what “FMS people” say, so be careful you don’t sound like one of those pansies.
When I see “Bad-Ass”, “Kick-Ass”, “Hardcore” and “Brute” trainers and training, I giggle a little. Relative to what? Sure you’re workouts are bad to the bone compared to the housewife on the treadmill on your gym, but combat Marines laugh at you. They know real bad ass.
And exactly how strong do you need to be to become an expert on training? If you needed heart surgery, do you only go to a surgeon who has had a quadruple-bypass himself?
(FYI-Just a side note that I’ve had the good fortune of throwing it around with some of the lead dogs from the FMS tribe and they have no fear of bars, weights or any other sadistic physical challenges)
The crazy thing with this argument is that in some weird convoluted way, I actually somewhat agree with this one, only in that corrective exercise is not the end-all, be-all. Corrective exercise is simply a means to an end to allow someone to do something their own body wouldn’t previously allow them to do. When I have someone do a Single Leg Hip Bridge it is not with the goal of making them be the Hip Bridge World Champion. It is to create a building block that will eventually teach them proper hip extension when sprinting, climbing, etc.
And not ALL people need corrective exercise. If you move well and score well and have no asymmetries, GO TRAIN. I just don’t have x-ray vision to know which ones do and which ones do not need corrective work when they walk in the door and my clients don’t pay me to guess. That is why I screen.
“I’ve seen athletes pass the FMS with great scores but things suddenly change when you add a “LOAD” or you mechanically stress them”. Yes, because they can have good movement quality and have lousy movement capacity, which are 2 different things. If they are breaking down, it is more likely it is because you OVERLOADED them and that is why things “suddenly changed”. Even if you can do a pretty squat, it won’t be so pretty if you load more weight on the bar than you can handle OR if even you load on the right weight, but you go past the point of fatigue, your form will break down.
Last but not least, if you’re going to quote someone to knock the FMS, choose someone who doesn’t have a certification course (the CK-FMS) done in conjunction with Functional Movement:
“FMS is an outstanding system for making an athlete resilient, a perfect compliment for the RKC.” – Pavel Tsatsouline
The “You don’t need Corrective Exercise because your body will “figure it out” Argument – “We are all asymmetrical by nature, its how we work!” and “anything that creates greater awareness of optimal patterns of stability or mobility can help to improve motor skills, posture, and movement efficiency”-Mel Siff…who knew a thing or two about training and the human body during movement “
The great Mr. Siff is 110% correct and that statement more supports the FMS system than it knocks it. As FMS founder Gray Cook repeatedly teaches, the goal of corrective exercise is to create awareness most importantly, rather than “fixing” anything.
Let’s stay take a step back for a moment and get a little philosophical with the semantics: What is a “corrective” or “functional” exercise???
If I can teach proper hip hinging via a barbell deadlift, is that corrective or functional?
In my mind, yes.
Conversely, laying on your side doing clamshell exercises with a band on your knees may not correct, improve, assist or facilitate a damn thing so it isn’t corrective or functional at all.
Corrective Exercise is only effective if it corrects something.
If when I’m coaching football and I teach a kid how to get into a better 3-point stance, am I doing “Corrective Exercise”??? If I correct him on his technique, how do I know if it “worked”? Probably if I go back and check his stance and it’s better the next time, then I did a good job.
Follow me through on this thought now. What if we took all of the movements we do and categorize them into say, 7 primary patterns? And then look at those patterns and if you really stink at one of them, do some stuff that might make you better at it. Then we go back and check and now you can do that faulty pattern much better. That sounds cool. Maybe would should invent something like that.
Bummer, it’s already be done. It’s called the Functional Movement Screen.
As far as asymmetries, YES we are all unique snowflakes. However, lots of published research also shows that when that when an imbalance goes beyond a certain point (15% for hip extension as an example) the likelihood of injury goes up anywhere from 2-11 times. So when you say “Here’s some things i do to correct my asymmetries, i brush my teeth with my left hand”, just make sure that you still brush the teeth on BOTH sides of your mouth equally, unless you think brushing only one side will get the teeth on the other side clean.
The “Let’s go back to the Old School when we didn’t need any of this fancy crap” Argument – “We have forgotten how to train and created problems that have no end – Buddy Morris, legendary strength coach, University of Pittsburgh”
I come across programs that are given today to some of the best athletes in the world and they aren’t worth the ink used to print them. No thought process or justification for any of the exercises, reps, sets, tempo, rest, etc. Just give cool exercises and make it hard.
But if you want to go “Old School”, keep it real son.
That is a picture of a gym from the early 1900’s. (Check out the dude with no shirt and dress slacks!)
No selectorized knee extensions, leg presses or elliptical machines here. Just dumbbells, kettlebells, ropes, rings, bars, medicine balls and cable pulleys. Sounds like a great “functional” gym to me. Sounds ironically what a lot of gyms now are claiming to be their unique brand of training and facility.
Sorry to burst your bubble, but as I tell most of the students I teach who want to claim to be “innovators” in training, unless you are an Ancient Greek or a 2000 year old Yogi, you didn’t invent sh**!
YES, good training not only needs less “corrective” exercise, it supports corrective exercise instead of screwing it up. You know where I get the most of my business doing “corrective” work??? It’s from other trainers who trash their clients and now they need to get “corrected” so they can play their sport or just go about their day without pain.
This rant is not meant to be an attack on the particular author of the linked article. I don’t know him or anything about him other than he probably has never taken an FMS course or read any of Gray Cook’s work and he is going on hearsay. He may be a very cool guy for all I know.
I write this to clarify a lot of myths that are becoming more prevalent commensurate with the growth and popularity of FMS in the past few years. When I teach the course, I have a slide in my presentation that actually addresses many of the points brought up in this article of what the FMS is and what it is not. Taken and used for what it is, it is one of the most innovative, objective and useful training tools I have come across in my 14+ year career in this field. I don’t write this with any prompting or compensation from FMS or it’s “people”. I just encourage you to learn more of the facts so you can make an informed and unbiased opinion yourself: www.functionalmovement.com