Does Functional Movement Screen Composite Score Really Tell Us Anything?

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Using two different statistical techniques, the authors performed a factor analysis to determine if the individual tests of the Functional Movement Screen are independent of each other or sum together into one construct. Basically, they looked at whether the total score of the FMS is useful to reveal the whole picture of an individual’s movement or if the individual score on each test needs to be considered.

The sum of the parts is not necessarily the whole

Here is what they found:

 “Results do not offer support for validity of the FMS sum score as a unidimensional construct.” 

 The individual test results give different information than the total FMS score. In other words, a score of 1 on the push up is not measuring the same movement construct as a score of 1 on the squat.

Another quote from the study:

“When using FMS results to communicate with patients and to direct rehabilitative needs, the sports medicine professional should focus more on the individual movement scores rather than the composite score”

This is definitely the case, as a person can have a composite score of 16 and score a 1,3 on the Active Straight Leg Raise and a zero on the squat. Even though the person has a high composite score, he still has pain and substantial fundamental movement deficits that must be addressed.

Bottom Line: While the Functional Movement Screen composite score was initially used in injury prediction research, the score on the individual tests is more important. In my opinion (supported by the research), you should not have any 0’s (pain) or 1’s (can’t perform a simple movement pattern) on any individual test. But guess what, if you have at least 2’s on all 7 tests, you already have a minimum of a 14.

Remember, the Functional Movement Screen is a filter, what are you trying to catch? I am primarily  interested in catching pain with movement as well as  the inability to perform a simple movement.

Ben Kazman J, Galecki J, Lisman P, Deuster PA, Oʼconnor FG. Factor Structure of the Functional Movement Screen in Marine Officer Candidates. J Strength Cond Res. 2014;28(3):672-8.

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