How to Exercise Using the Functional Movement System (FMS)
FMS, the Functional Movement Screen and Certification, was originated by Gray Cook, one of the world’s foremost Physiotherapists.
Ouch! Which exercises hurt, and cause us to forego them? For many it’s the deadlift, or some version of the squat or lunge. For others, it’s the the walkout. Many hate doing the kettlebell get-up, due to poor hip movement patterns and limitations. Guess what – there are exercises that I have serious hangups with also —-most trainers and athletes do.
Middle aged folks who have a “Come to Jesus” moment with their health, most often realize that, upon returning to the gym, they aren’t the spring chicken they once were in the days of CIF championships, banana bicycle seats and pom poms. Nope, bending over to change socks is no longer quite the same, picking up the grandson can be….oh my – probably a disk slipper. Most middle age folks with whom I work, start their training with me after they’ve “lost” the ability to squat down very far anymore, yet still have 40-70 years to live on this earth. You ask yourself things like..do I need a new miniscus? Should I just replace that bad hip? And often times, you should. But here’s what you should understand about your body…..and I’ll be careful to make it digestible.
We have been losing our human movement ability for generations. In our lifetimes, due to sitting, we have poorer movement and posture than in generations past (check out some black and white photos sometime). So look at it like this…….If you leave a tractor in a field unattended and unmaintained for 50 years, how will it work once you fire it back up? Answer: with decreased function. I’ll contend that it’s the exact same with all of our bodies. How do we bring back function back to the tractor, and to our bodies? Actually, in a quite similar fashion.
Let’s take this a VERY important step further – What happens when we try to drive that tractor the same way we did in it’s days of grandeur – ie, sharp snappy turns, running the motor at high RPMs, hauling the heaviest loads, for the longest duration? Answer? It will break. But with the proper care, this tractor can function as it was designed to once again – AND IT’S THE EXACT SAME WITH THE HUMAN BODY. The FMS, though a short, basic, nondescript acronym, is about restoring the way bodies move and function on a neuromuscular and musculoskeletal level, so that your body can again be loaded and exercised with improved strength, range of motion, and pain free, the way you could back in the day of drive in theatres, and HEMIs.
Think about it for just a minute. If your body is frozen up in certain areas, no longer able to move as before, will lifting weights in spite of your dysfunction and pain A. Help you feel better and become more healthy, or B. Make you hurt, and increase your dysfunction? Answer: Both. Your body is more complicated than that tractor (though it has many more miles), so in the beginning, you will actually feel good for exercising, even with even extreme dysfunction, in spite of having to grit your teeth at the pain. But the mechanical aspects of your body behave similar to a machine, mechanically, so if these musculoskeletal/mechanical issues are not addressed, your body is 100% SURE TO BREAK DOWN. Trust me – if bad movement can stop a tractor, it can and will stop you (we are made of soft tissue, not hardened steel). This is the point where most people leave and do not return to resistance training, despite it’s being one of the top all-time recommended activities by MDs. But this applies to any body movement, in any sport, no matter what you do to stay in shape.
So how does the FMS (Functional Movement Screen) work? The subject/client/athlete is given a battery of 7 tests to perform. The straight leg raise, shoulder mobility, rotary stability, trunk stability, inline lunge, hurdle step, and the deep squat. Each one is assigned a score, and there is an overall score. For each movement where there is a deficiency, specific corrective exercises are assigned and taught, which improve the score and the movement, usually in under 2-3 week’s time, though the results of neuromuscular re-patterning are usually apparent immediately.
If you seek training under the FMS system, you will be able to: squat deeper with less discomfort, and correct biomechanics. You will have greater range of motion in your hips, knees and shoulders and neck. You will have less pain before, during and after workouts, as a result of proper, efficient movement, static and dynamic motor control. You will experience decreased recovery time. You will be able to workout more often. More exercises and activities will become available to you, when your body starts to move correctly again. You will no longer have to consider “alternate” forms of exercise that are “less stressful” on the body. Get real – you are just accepting something that’s not true – that you are just “old”. Just like every part of life, the answers lie in our level of education – in this case, about exercise. The more educated we become about exercise, the more we can enjoy it, and are free to workout pain free into our late, late years. The bad stress in resistance training comes from our learned, improper movement patterns. If those are corrected, you will be like that tractor in your old age – you will be like those heroes of mine in my gym, who still workout hard into their 80s, still smile, are still positive, and still contribute greatly to my life and to the lives of others with their health and happiness.
So next time you are doing an exercise that hurts whether during or afterwards, ask yourself…..am I doing myself good or harm? Seek out the answer from an FMS certified specialist.
IF YOU ARE IN THE BAY AREA CALL US TODAY ON +1 510-691-0359 TO BOOK YOUR FREE SESSION.
SOMEWHERE ELSE? FIND AN FMS CERTIFIED PROFESSIONAL CLOSE TO YOU BY VISITING FUNCTIONALMOVEMENT.COM.
By Dan Piper, CPT, RKC, FMS, Workout4Results.com
Dan Piper is one of the Bay Area’s Few Kettlebell Specialists, and an absolute geek on body alignment and muscle balance. He has worked as a full time Personal Trainer and Strength Coach in Alameda for 5 years, and caters to folks truly wanting to get healthy.