How Does Functional Movement Screening Aid in Preventing Sport-Related Injuries in Adolescents?

When it comes to sports, the safety and well-being of adolescent athletes are paramount. One increasingly popular method to ensure such safety is Functional Movement Screening (FMS). But how exactly does this process aid in the prevention of sport-related injuries among adolescents? In this piece, you’ll discover how FMS works, the key factors it assesses, its implementation in the sporting world, and its distinct advantages.

What is Functional Movement Screening?

Let’s begin by understanding what Functional Movement Screening is. FMS is a screening tool designed to identify compensatory movements and asymmetries that can result in poor performance or even pose a risk of injury. By identifying these potential pitfalls, proactive steps can be taken to address the issue before it becomes serious.

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Originally developed in the late 90s, FMS has gained significant recognition in the sports and fitness industry. It is a pre-participation screening tool designed to determine an individual’s risk of injury. FMS consists of seven tests that challenge an individual’s ability to perform basic movement patterns that reflect combinations of muscle strength, flexibility, range of motion, coordination, balance, and proprioception.

Key Factors Assessed in FMS

The Functional Movement Screening tool focuses on key areas in the body that are critical in performing athletic activities. The seven movements it assesses are – deep squat, hurdle step, in-line lunge, shoulder mobility, active straight leg raise, trunk stability push-up, and rotary stability.

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The deep squat assesses bilateral, symmetrical, and functional mobility of the hips, knees, and ankles. The hurdle step tests stability and control in a single-leg stance, while the in-line lunge examines hip and torso stability during closed-chain movement. Shoulder mobility evaluates the mobility of the shoulder region, the active straight leg raise tests the flexibility of the hamstrings, and the trunk stability push-up assesses core stability. Lastly, the rotary stability test examines the multi-plane trunk stability during a combined upper and lower extremity movement.

These seven tests provide a comprehensive assessment of an athlete’s functional movement capabilities, helping to highlight any potential areas of weakness.

Implementing FMS in Sports

Now that we understand what FMS is and what it assesses, let’s delve into how it’s implemented in sports. The implementation of FMS in the sporting world is widespread, spanning from professional leagues to school sporting events.

The screening tool’s simplicity and non-invasive nature make it an easily administered test that can even be performed on the sidelines. This makes it a valuable tool for coaches, athletic trainers, and even physical education teachers.

The FMS is designed to be scored objectively, allowing for easy comparison and tracking of an athlete’s progress. After an initial baseline measurement, subsequent screenings can identify changes in movement patterns, indicating either improvements or potential areas of concern.

Advantages of Using FMS

The advantages of FMS are multifaceted. First, it helps identify athletes at risk of injury. By pinpointing functional movement deficiencies, FMS can predict potential areas of risk. For example, studies show that athletes who score less than 14 out of 21 on the FMS are more likely to sustain injuries.

Secondly, FMS can guide individualized training programs. Once these functional movement deficiencies are identified, they can be addressed through targeted training and rehabilitation programs, which are tailored specifically to the athlete’s needs.

Finally, using FMS can enhance an athlete’s performance. By improving movement efficiency, athletes can increase their performance level. A study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research found that implementation of corrective exercises based on FMS scores improved sprint and agility performance in professional soccer players.

By identifying movement asymmetries and weaknesses early on, FMS is a valuable tool in preventing sport-related injuries in adolescents. It offers a comprehensive approach to injury prevention, targeting strength, flexibility, and stability in a variety of movement patterns. This proactive approach ensures that young athletes can safely participate in sports, reducing the risk of career-threatening injuries.

FMS Limitations and Room for Improvement

Although Functional Movement Screening has proven a valuable tool in preventing sport-related injuries among adolescent athletes, it’s essential to acknowledge its limitations and areas that require improvement.

Firstly, the specificity of FMS can be a double-edged sword. While the seven tests it comprises effectively assess key movement patterns, they may not encompass all movements performed in every sport. For example, the distinct movements required in gymnastics or swimming might not be adequately captured by the existing tests. As such, the FMS could potentially overlook sport-specific movement impairments, leading to an underestimation of injury risk.

Secondly, while FMS serves as a good predictive tool, it doesn’t necessarily provide an in-depth diagnosis. The screening identifies potential risk areas but lacks the ability to offer a detailed pathological explanation for the observed movement deficiency. In other words, FMS can tell you that a problem exists but not why the problem exists.

Lastly, the scoring system, although designed to be objective, can still be subject to variability and interpretation. The 0-3 scoring scale may not capture subtle but significant differences in movement quality.

These limitations highlight the need for continuous improvement and refinement of the FMS system. It’s essential to consider sport-specific movements and expand the range of tests to cover a wider variety of athletic disciplines. Further research is needed to refine the scoring system and increase its sensitivity and specificity.


Functional Movement Screening has emerged as a significant part of injury prevention strategies for adolescent athletes. By identifying movement asymmetries and compensatory patterns, the screening tool aids in predicting the risk of sports-related injuries.

FMS’s implementation in the sporting world, from professional leagues to school sporting events, underscores its importance and effectiveness. Its predictive power, coupled with its ability to guide individualized training programs, offers a multifaceted approach to injury prevention.

However, despite the advantages and the positive impact FMS has demonstrated in enhancing adolescent athletes’ safety, it’s important to consider its limitations. The need for a wider range of tests to cover more sport-specific movements and a more detailed scoring system are among the areas for potential improvement.

Incorporating FMS into regular athletic screening processes can undoubtedly contribute to safer sports participation. As research continues to refine and enhance its capabilities, FMS can only become more effective at safeguarding the well-being of adolescents involved in sports. Indeed, the ultimate goal of FMS – and indeed all sports medicine – is to allow athletes to participate in sports while minimizing the risk of injury.