Coach Alicia Fong

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What is Functional Movement Screen “FMS”?

This is a term used alot in the fitness industry lately.  I have been asked a lot about it and it is important that everybody who wants to get fit should understand this term.

FMS is an assessment tool developed by Gray Cook and Lee Burton.  It is to assess people’s primitive body movement patterns. It screens seven basic patterns: squatting,fms stepping, lunging, reaching, leg raising, pushing and rotary stability. These movements are primal to humans from the minute we are born.

Let’s think about it for a minute. Babies are born already knowing how to raise their legs. If you get a chance to watch a baby, watch them how they get up. They first learn to roll, then push with the arms and at the same time they learn to stabilize and reach, then they learn to squat, then re-learn to stabilize and finally get up. Stepping and lunging are the next two primal movement patterns babies learn after getting up.

So, FMS is essential for all personal trainers to learn how to use in all of their clients. For individuals who want to work out, it is important to go through this screening prior to any training program for many reasons:

  1. We want to learn where our weaknesses and strengths are.
  2. Where our muscles imbalances are
  3. Where our bodies are compensating for the weaknesses
  4. Where our lack of stability and mobility in our bodies are.

All joint muscles work together.  When one weak muscle exists, we, as humans, will compensate that weakness with another muscle, and therefore, shut down other areas which later can cause pain and injuries.  By the way, athletes are great compensators.

In most cases, pain is a symptom and not the cause. For instance, when a person’s hip is stiff, that person would likely compensate in the back, and therefore, develop lower back pain. Lower back pain is just a symptom but the cause is lack of mobility in the hip area (where the stiffness is). You address the lack of mobility and the lower back pain will reduce or even go away.

So, FMS is one of the greatest tools to identify the faults in a human body, especially the primary/basic movements. Once you identify the causes, you want to correct them first before loading up your body with weights, otherwise, you are more likely to have injuries in the future. I highly recommend everybody to go through this FMS if you haven’t done so. There are lots of trainers who know how to screen them and do a great job. In fact, if a trainer doesn’t know FMS, then the trainer is no good and needs to get some updated education. Fire that trainer and hire one who knows what they are doing. FMS give trainers a reference point on where to begin and develop the program for their clients. Otherwise, they are just guessing or using a standard program for all of their clients. Each individual is unique and therefore each person should have a unique training program especially design for him/her. No all programs work well for all individuals. That is also why some trainers end up injuring their clients. Use this as a tip to know how to hire a good personal trainer.  Certifications don’t mean a thing.  Anybody can get a personal trainer certification online within hours.

If you have more questions, don’t hesitate to contact me at or (310) 895-5385.


February 10, 2009 - Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , ,

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