12 Jul 2015

A Call to Parents

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Please help guard your kids from their next ACL tear. Please.

As a father of 4 boys, protecting their health and wellbeing is of utmost importance to me. My wife and I believe sports participation offers our children physical, emotional, and leadership benefits. Unfortunately, sports injuries are costly both physically and emotionally.  It Injury preventionseems that injuries are just part of the package.  Or are they?

These injuries can be reduced. That’s right, we know how to predict and prevent ACL tears and all of the subsequent misery. We know how to prevent ankle sprains and other maladies.  The real problem is that we just can’t get parents and health care providers to take action.

Numerous researchers, myself included, have dedicated their lives to injury prediction and prevention. So, what do we know? By combining multiple, easy to perform movement tests and other evidence-based risk factors, we were able to develop an injury risk algorithm that categorizes an athlete’s injury risk. We put the algorithm into a novel software application called Move2Perform, making injury risk prediction available to fitness and health care professionals globally.

A study by Lehr et al validated this algorithm in collegiate athletes.  Lehr’s study demonstrated that athletes who were categorized by the Move2Perform software as being in the highest two risk categories were 3.5 times more likely to get hurt than their peers. Interestingly, no athletes who were in the optimal (lowest risk for injury) group were injured — apparently being “protected” from injury.

A similar algorithm has been developed for the U.S. military. Our ability to test and categorize many people quickly led a team of researchers to replicate the injury prediction in sports for the U. S. Military.  The result was a 5 year research project called the MP3 study—Improving Military Power, Performance, through Prevention – which developed an injury predication algorithm for our service members.  In addition, these sports and military algorithms are now being applied in the occupational setting.

But what can I do as a parent?

There are several steps parents can take to decrease their child’s risk of injury.  Begin by embracing prevention.  Like vehicles, bodies require preventative maintenance.  Youth does not insulate your child from injury.  A comprehensive movement “check up,” annually at minimum, is essential for musculoskeletal health.

In addition, here are 6 suggestions you can implement as a parent to help protect your child from injury (I will expand on each of these in subsequent posts):

1)      Don’t have your child specialize in one sport too early or play too often. Using the guideline of no more hours per week in sports practice or competition then their age can solve a lot of problems

2)      Find a provider using the best evidence available for your child’s movement screening

3)      Be sure research-validated testing is performed pre-season and between sport seasons

4)      Ensure that the risk factors identified during testing are corrected and verify that they have been corrected with re-testing

5)      Once screening and testing are clear, have your child perform one of the many validated prevention programs (FIFA 11+, SportsMetrics, Santa Monica PEP)

6)      If your child does get injured, insist on standardized, evidence-based return to sport testing prior to being released from medical care. Being pain-free and “feeling great at practice” is not sufficient.

I realize it is hard to make injury prevention measures a priority between all of the practices and games, but identifying and correcting faulty movement patterns is essential to musculoskeletal health.  We schedule maintenance for our cars to avoid inconvenient breakdowns.  We see the dentist twice a year for precisely the same reason.  It’s time we embrace the wonderful truth about injury prevention—injuries can be predicted and prevented.



You want to be a better communicator, but can’t make it to speakers school. In other posts, I have written about other things you can do to become a better speaker. In this post, I have compiled my favorite resources to improve your communication and public speaking skills. I prefer to “read” (listen to) these books through Audible, as I can listen when I am walking/running or driving.

Talk Like Ted

Carmine Gallo

In my opinion, this is the best overview of many different resources and research by far. If I could only read one book on communication, this would be it. It is an extremely easy to digest, action-oriented book that gives an explanation of the research and a lot of practical examples.


Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action

Simon Sinek

With any communication, whether it is a note to a physician, a talk I’m going to give, or complex problem solving, I always “Start with Why.” If you want to get a taste of what the book is like, check out his TED talk. It could change your perception of communication forever.


Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others DieMade to Stick

Chip & Dan Heath

My favorite example from this book is the question, “Why do we tend to remember the meaningless details or urban legends, yet completely forget what we hear in presentations at work or a continuing education course?” The authors do an excellent job of lining out what makes ideas “sticky.”


Switch: How to Change Things When Change Is Hard

Chip & Dan Heath

Another great one from the Heath brothers! This is a must read for public speakers as well as anyone who is dealing with behavior change (e.g. getting patients to do their home exercise programs or trying to change cultural norms in your organization). Remember, behavior change is our ultimate goal with communication.


Dynamic Communicators

I really enjoyed the The Dynamic Communicator DVD series from Ken Davis and Michael Hyatt. I don’t think the DVDs are available any more but they have a live conference as well as a book. It is a clean, systematic approach to getting your message across that utilizes much of the current research on the public speaking.

Don’t wait until the “perfect time” to improve you communication – do something TODAY! Whether you are aware of it or not, you are speaking publicly to your audience every day.  Make the most of it!

What are your favorite communication improvement resources? Share them below so we can all benefit


15 Sep 2014

The Secret to Great Communication

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I have found a secret when it comes to great communication.

What is it? ……….I am glad you asked!   But first, I want you to think about this question for a moment– what is the purpose of communication? Write it down or at least come up with your answer before continuing……


If your answer involves anything to do with “getting your point across” or “having the other person understand what you are saying,” you are missing a major component of communication.  Ultimately, communication has one goal – to get the other person to change his behavior in the way that you want him to. That’s right, the goal of most communication is behavior change.

What do we do when we communicate?  Let’s say we’re trying to get a co-worker to embrace the Functional Movement System or get a coach or player to engage in injury prevention.  What happens?  Typically, we are so excited and passionate about our topic that we end up sounding much like a pushy sales person. (When talking about injury prevention and the annual musculoskeletal exam, I get like a Labrador Retriever puppy who wants to play fetch — including the slobber!) We say too much! This tends to cause people to shut down.

If that is the case, then what is a key pre-requisite for behavior change — the person has to be ready and willing to change. Re-read the title, tweet or facebook post that got you here. Why did you click on it?

Many times, people will not be ready for change or even know that they should change. We tend to think that means we need to bombard the person with information so he can make a decision. This is precisely the wrong thing to do.

The secret to great communication is to provide a morsel of intriguing information and wait for the person to ask a question. If he asks a question, that means that he is engaged and ready for the information and depending on the information you provide, for a subsequent behavior change. When you are speaking to a large group, you shouldn’t expect the question to be voiced out loud, but write your talk so that it answers the natural questions the audience member will be thinking.

Keep your goal of a specific behavior change in mind and craft your words carefully to arouse curiosity.   Put your intriguing facts on the line and wait.  Remember, you need to give them time to process the information. A long pause works really well and builds anticipation for what you are going to say next. Hook them with the most compelling information you can muster, in as few words as possible. Ready your audience for their first step in the direction you would like them to go, without leaving any slobber on their sleeves.


Last week, someone commented to me “I heard you speak in 2009, you are so much better!” I was really grateful for that compliment. I have been working hard on being a better speaker for the past several years. I frequently get asked, “how do you become a better speaker?” So I thought I would write a series on it.


One of the turning points in my speaking career was attending speakers training with Thomas Plummer and Greg Rose. Speakers’ school commences with “Welcome to Hell”, the opening line from Greg Rose. He goes on to say, “After a talk, when you ask your friends and colleagues how you did, they will tell you you that you did great…….we are not your friends.”

And with that warm introduction, speakers’ school begins. First, you are filmed and evaluated on how you walk into a room or on to stage. Key message here – head up, good posture and what you are currently doing is neither (even if you think you are).

Then, your wardrobe is critiqued…..how was I supposed to know that pleats and cuffs were for fat old men? After critiquing what you are currently wearing, they take a picture of you to see which color shirts look best on you with your complexion and hair color. As far as appearance goes, here are a few general guidelines (particularly for men):

      • Bright color, non-patterned shirt
      • Dark colored pants
      • Professionally cut hair
      • Large watch so you can see time
      • Clean, polished shoes
      • Fashionable belt (no, not the one you won at the rodeo)

These seem like small things, but they add up for a lot of unspoken credibility.

You then read a children’s book outloud and your voice, inflection, and speed are critiqued. This is something that you can do on your own. Play it back. Can you understand yourself and do you find yourself interesting — not your topic, but your voice? Could you imagine if people read books to their children in the same manner that they give a talk in front of people – but I guess that monotone, non-dramatic voice would be good for getting the kids to sleep!

Then comes the real test – a 5 minute talk that is filmed in high definition – no notes, no power point. It is then played back while you sit at the front of the class. You get to critique yourself first. Then, the class critiques you. Then, two guys in the back (Greg and Thom) who can only be described as the Simon Cowells of public speaking give you “feedback.” No holds barred!

As if that is not bad enough, you “get” to give your talk again implementing the feedback you received. Each time you make a mistake such as  the common “um” or “ya know”, you have to stop and start over. Evidently the phrase I said over and over again was “you guys”. If it takes multiple attempts for you to get rid of your filler phrase, the class gets to throw things at you every time you say it – most of the objects are Nerf, but let me tell you, a Nerf soccer ball hurled at your face from the side (only seen at the last second before it hits you) can be quite the jolting experience.

If you have survived all of this, and take the time to implement all of the feedback, you will be a better communicator. I promise. If you are not up for speakers’ school quite yet or can’t get to one, there are some simple steps you can take to improve your public speaking. Start by doing an audio recording of yourself reading a children’s book and then video yourself giving a 5 minute talk…..you will be better for it.

I will be doing an entire series on communication as it is so important, not just for public speaking, but for achieving buy in for what you want to accomplish — performing a home exercise program, implementing group injury prevention testing, or for your colleagues to join you on your quest for excellence.

I wrote a post for Medbridge on the Common misconceptions of the Functional Movement Screen. Here are the 3 misconceptions I covered:Trunk Stability Push Up


Misconception #1: The Functional Movement Screen isn’t really a screen because it’s not sensitive

Misconception #2: The Functional Movement Screen is designed to be diagnostic

Misconception #3: The Functional Movement Screen results relate to how the person will perform under load or in competition


To read the entire post CLICK HERE

Disclosure: I teach an online Return to Sport Testing course for MedBridge. To find out why I recommend MedBridge CLICK HERE



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.

Recently, I tested a player in professional sports who had the following Y Balance Test and Functional Movement Screen scores.

Move2Perform Report High YBT Low FMS

Test 1 Graph

 Move2Perform Report High YBT low FMS


If you will notice, his Y Balance Test Lower Quarter scores were great – symmetrical and above the risk cut point for his gender, sport, and competition level. But his Functional Movement Screen was riddled with fundamental movement pattern deficits and asymmetries. This a classic example of why both tests are necessary for a more complete profile of the athlete’s motor control of body weight.

In an unpublished analysis of 1490 athletes/active individuals, we found 677 (45%) passed the Y Balance Test Lower Quarter and of those 677 that passed, 243 (35%) failed the FMS. So, if you only use the Y Balance Test Lower Quarter, you will miss about 16% of the athletes who are at risk of injury.

However, consider another athlete on the same team:

Move2Perform Report low YBT good FMS

Test 2 Graph

 Move2Perform Report Good FMS poor YBT

As you can see with this player, his FMS score was good (no zero’s or one’s). While he may possess movement competence as demonstrated by the Functional Movement Screen, he has deficits in his motor control capacity as measured by the Y Balance Test Lower Quarter. But with an anterior reach asymmetry and a composite score below his peers (other professional baseball players), he is at risk of injury. His dynamic left/right imbalance and decreased performance at his limit of stability is a substantial risk factor for injury.

If we go back to the analysis of the 1490 athletes/active individuals, we found that 535 (35%) passed FMS and of those 535 that passed, 253 (47%) failed the Y Balance Test Lower Quarter.  If you just use the FMS, you will miss about 17% of the total number of athletes who are at risk injury.

Thus, it is important to use both the Functional Movement Screen and Y Balance Test for a more complete profile of the athlete as well as the most robust injury risk prediction (see Lehr et al 2013). Or at a minimum, establish basic motor control competency with the Functional Movement Screen first, then move on to the Y Balance Test.

What do you think?

In previous posts, I discussed why we would consider testing an athlete in an open-kinetic chain sport with a closed-kinetic chain test. Then, I discussed the hierarchy of testing and began with the Functional Movement Screen Trunk Stability Push Up and the Upper Quarter Y Balance test as basic tests of movement competency, motor control competency, and motor control capacity. Now we will examine another test that looks at capacity – the Closed Kinetic Chain Upper Extremity Stability Test.


The Closed Kinetic Chain Upper Extremity Stability Test is reliable and has some discriminant and predictive validity.1-3 The test is performed in a pushup position with the hands placed 36 inches apart on strips of athletic tape. The person reaches with alternating hands across the body to touch the piece of tape under the opposing hand. The number of cross-body touches performed in 15 seconds is recorded. The test can be modified by performing the test in the kneeling position.

It has also been suggested that the number of touches can also be divided by height to normalize the number of touches to each person. While this does give some normalization, the test is still not body relative since everyone has hands placed 36 inches apart (think about how hard that position would be for 5 foot tall gymnast compared to a 7 foot tall basketball player). In addition, a power score can be calculated by “multiplying the average number of touches with 68% of the patient’s body weight in kilograms, which is the weight of the arms, head, and trunk. That score is then divided by 15, which is the duration of the test in seconds. The power score reflects the amount of work performed in a unit of time.”


It appears that the CKCUEST does have some discriminant validity. In a recent study, researchers found that those with shoulder impingement performed substantially worse on the test compared to activity level matched controls.3 They also found the MDC to range between 2 and 4. What is interesting is that 15-25% of the “healthy” subjects reported shoulder pain after performing the test. This again speaks to the importance of having a hierarchy of testing (and maybe the number of people that consider having shoulder pain as normal).3 There is one prospective study that examines the predictive validity of the CKCUEST in collegiate football players.4 Researchers did a battery of strength, ROM, shoulder endurance, and CKCUEST at the beginning of the season on 26 players. The authors found that scoring less than 21 touches increased the likelihood of a shoulder injury during the season (5/6 of the injured players scored below 20 touches).4 While this test requires upper quarter stability, it is more of a speed/agility/power test as its measurement is touches per unit of time/height/bodyweight. I think the real value of the test lies in what one of the original authors describes as its ability to identify patients who were

“unwilling or unable to perform or developed pain during the test were not able to participate in their sport pain-free in the glenohumeral complex.”1

Bottom Line: Given the number of healthy people that have pain with the test and its potential predictive validity, it may have a place in the testing continuum to identify those with unreported pain/problems once lower level testing is complete (shoulder mobility, impingement clearing test, trunk stability push up, etc.). In addition, it can be used as one factor to determine that a person has the capacity to accept weight through one limb which is an important demonstration of stability and strength particularly after rehabilitation. Remember, this assumes all lower level testing has been passed.  







1.  Goldbeck TG, Davies J. Test-Retest Reliability of the Closed Kinetic Chain Upper Extremity Stability Test: A Clinical Field Test. J of Sport Rehabil. 2000;9(1):35-46.

2.  Roush JR, Kitamura J, Waits MC. Reference Values for the Closed Kinetic Chain Upper Extremity Stability Test (CKCUEST) for Collegiate Baseball Players. NAJSPT. Aug 2007;2(3):159-163.

3.  Tucci HT, Martins J, Sposito Gde C, Camarini PM, de Oliveira AS. Closed Kinetic Chain Upper Extremity Stability test (CKCUES test): a reliability study in persons with and without shoulder impingement syndrome. BMC musculoskeletal disorders. 2014;15:1.

4.  Pontillo M. Spinelli BA SB. Prediction of In-Season Shoulder Injury From Preseason Testing in Division I Collegiate Football Players. Sports Health. 2014.

Do dancers score differently than other athletes on the Y Balance Test Lower Quarter?

Researchers found that Y Balance Test Lower Quarter performance in collegiate dancers was superior to other athletes, with dancers demonstrating a mean composite reach score of 105%. “This research supports the findings of previous studies by demonstrating dancers’ superior dynamic balance ability compared to other athletes, thus indicating the need for YBT-LQ normative values to be established for dancers.” (Cole et al)

Do modifiable risk factors for injury still remain at return to sport in those with ACL reconstructions?

Another group of researchers (see previous CSM research post for the other research) found that  deficits are present in athletes who return to sport post-ACLR. In particular, the star excursion balance test anterior reach asymmetry and prone heel height difference (a method to identify decreased knee extension ROM) were present at return to sport and clinicians “should consider using the SEBT to identify post-ACLR athletes who may be at increased risk for injury and decreased joint health.” (Stanley et al)

Does pain with clearing or movement tests predict injury in healthy active duty soldiers?

You bet it does!

In a cohort of 1455, “pain was present on 207 (14.2%) FMS movement tests, 176 (13.5%) FMS clearing tests, 56 (3.8%) YBT-LQ, 96 (6.6%) YBT-UQ, 93 (6.4%) 6-m hop tests, 80 (5.5%) triple crossover hop tests, and 13 (0.9%) ankle dorsiflexion. Pain at baseline movement testing was associated (P =.001) with future injury. The odds ratio of being injured in the upcoming year based on pain on movement tests was 2.0 (95% confidence interval: 1.6, 2.5). The odds ratio of being injured in the upcoming year based on prior history of injury was 2.1 (95% confidence interval: 1.7, 2.6).” (Teyhen et al)


Teyhen D, Shaffer SW, Butler R, Goffar SL, Kiesel KB, Rhon DJ, Plisky P. Pain and prior injury as risk factors for musculoskeletal injury in Service Members: A prospective cohort study. Platform Presentation. J Orthop Sports Phys Ther. 2014;44(1): A39.

Stanley LE, Shanley E, Thigpen C, Padua D. Star Excursion Balance Test and Heel-Height Difference as Screening Tools in Athletes Who Have Returned to Sport Following Primary Anterior Cruciate Ligament. Platform Presentation. J Orthop Sports Phys Ther. 2014;44(1): A65.

Cole HT, McGivern JM, Morejon A, Sudol-Horowitz T, Pivko S, Brooks G, Lusk MM. The Performance of Dancers on the Lower Quadrant Y-Balance Test (YBT-LQ).Platform Presentation. J Orthop Sports Phys Ther. 2014;44(1): A67.


CSM 2014

  • The Selective Functional Movement Assessment top tier testing reliability was examined in two ways:
    Click for larger view

    Click for larger view

    categorizing each of the 7 patterns into pattern into 4 categories (FN, FP, DN, DP) or by the criteria checklist (the criteria by which each movement is determined to be functional or not). Both methods demonstrated good to excellent reliability in raters who have experience with the grading (i.e. greater than 25 hours experience with the SFMA). Raters with only 8 hours experience had poor reliability. This speaks to the importance of training AND practice in clinically assessing movement (Juneau et al and Glaws et al)


  • An individualized corrective program based on movement deficits identified by screening improved collegiate softball players Move2Perform injury risk category. In addition, the FMS and YBT scores improved with significant difference from baseline to final testing in both screens. With regard to overall injury-risk category, there was a 31.2% reduction from high-risk to low-risk categories with this individualized injury-prevention program. The researchers suggested further risk reduction may have occurred if all of the players in the highest risk category (substantial risk) received one on one interventions (Erion et al)


  • A high percentage of athletes after ACL reconstruction cleared by the surgeon to return to sport did not pass even basic injury prediction tests including the Functional Movement Screen and Y Balance Test Lower Quarter. The authors stated, “progressive standardized tests of neuromuscular function may be beneficial to add to the interdisciplinary decision making process when returning patients safely to their prior level of sports participation” (Butler et al)



Erion A, Alm A, Hudson C, Matsel K. Athlete-Specific Corrective Exercises Improve Functional Movement Tests and Injury Risk Categories in a Collegiate Softball Team. Platform Presentation. J Orthop Sports Phys Ther. 2014;44(1): A53-4.

Juneau CM ,Hewett T, , Glaws K, Becker L, Di Stasi S. Inter- and Intra-rater Reliability of the Selective Functional Movement Assessment in a Healthy Population. Platform Presentation. J Orthop Sports Phys Ther. 2014;44(1): A53.

Glaws K, Juneau CM, Becker L, Di Stasi S, Hewett T. Intra- and Inter-rater Reliability of the Standard Scoring of the Seven Fundamental Movements of the Selective Functional Movement Assessment (SFMA) in Healthy Adults. Platform Presentation. J Orthop Sports Phys Ther. 2014;44(1): A53.

Butler RJ, Mayer S, MD,  Garrett W, Taylor D, Moorman C, Toth A,  Queen R. Functional testing differences in ACL reconstruction patients cleared vs. not cleared to return to sports using clinical examination. Platform Presentation. J Orthop Sports Phys Ther. 2014;44(1) A34

About Phil

Phil Plisky

I want to change peoples lives through dialogue about creating an ideal career, injury prevention research, and return to activity testing.

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