Assessing movement using a variety of screening tests

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Chris Bishop with Paul Read, Scott Walker & Anthony Turner

Movement screening is a process that has become widely utilised in both the general and athletic populations, providing practitioners with an indication of joint mobility, motor patterning, muscular equilibrium and stability. Although some organisations have their own method of assessing human movement, others have adopted Gray Cook’s Functional Movement Screen (FMS), which uses seven tests to gauge an understanding of mobility, stability and movement. These screening methods provide useful information about fundamental movement patterns, thus allowing coaches to interpret the strengths and weaknesses of their athletes, and to make more accurate decisions regarding programme design. However, one component that the FMS does not address is a screening test at speed. When the seven tests are considered collectively, they are not reflective of dynamic actions involved in many sports, omitting rapid decelerations and high eccentric forces which may be a characteristic of high injury risk. With this in mind, it seems logical to assess athletes for movement competency using an assessment that has more relevance to injury risk or one that mimics the speed of movement often experienced in sport. This may complement the FMS, thus providing a fuller picture. Velocity-based tests such as the countermovement jump (CMJ), squat jump (SJ) and drop jump (DJ) have long been included in fitness testing batteries, but not always for movement screening purposes. There are a number of similar assessments that have been used for screening purposes, namely to identify athletes at risk of injury. For the purpose of this article, these assessments will be grouped under the term ‘dynamic stability-based tests’. Therefore, the purpose of this article is to offer the strength and conditioning (S&C) practitioner a brief description of the FMS, to provide evidence of why dynamic stability-based tests are needed to provide a fuller picture, and to review which tests are available for this purpose and make recommendations.

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