The Functional Movement Screen, or FMS, is a tool used to evaluate movement patterns in athletic populations. The screen was developed by movement specialists Gray Cook, MSPT, OCS, CSCS and Lee Burton, PhD, ATC. The screen consists of seven exercises designed to discover dysfunctions in the human body. By addressing faulty movement patterns with treatment and corrective exercise, we can decrease the likelihood of players becoming injured during the season. Additionally, we can increase performance by correcting the movement patterns, making the body function symmetrically and efficiently.  The FMS is designed to be used in healthy populations. The test is ineffective for people who are actively in pain. Pain can alter movement patterns and give unreliable information. When pain is encountered during the movement screen, treatment of the painful area is required before the test can be completed.

The FMS is also designed to provide a common language between various health and fitness professionals between Personal Trainers, Strength & Conditioning Coaches, Coaches/Managers, Athletic Trainers, Physical Therapists, Chiropractors, and Medical Doctors.

When a personal trainer or coach evaluates an athlete using the FMS, they can tailor exercise programs to correct movement deficiencies and asymmetries. If pain is encountered, these individuals have a network of FMS-certified clinicians (MDs, DCs, PTs, ATCs) who understand movement patterns and can diagnose and treat injuries, returning athletes to their trainers and coaches.

The FMS has gained popularity in professional sports over the last two years, especially in the soccer (football) community in Europe and the United States. The FMS is used to pre-season screen players, evaluate the effectiveness of their corrective exercises, and to post-season screen players and develop off-season strategies. The FMS is used in the training facilities of the following football clubs:


The FMS consists of seven exercises: 


 1. Deep Squat – evaluates squatting mechanics and mobility of the shoulders, hips, knees, and ankles, critical to deceleration:

2. Hurdle Step – excellent indicator of running biomechanics as it evaluates hip mobility and extension of the leg during running. Corrections here can improve sprinting explosiveness:

3. Inline Lunge – evaluates stability and balance with the body in a split stance, important in acceleration:

4. Shoulder Mobility – symmetrically evaluates shoulder range of motion, important for holding off players and essential to numerous goalkeeping activities:

5. Active Straight Leg Raise – evaluates flexibility of hamstrings, glutes, calves and hip flexor/quadriceps on opposite side: 

6. Trunk Stability Push-Up – core stability is utilized in all aspects of the game from running, cutting, jumping, heading, passing, shooting, tackling, slide tackling, diving: 

7. Rotary Stability – evaluates core stability and ability to connect and coordinate movements between the upper body and lower body like running & changing directions, jumping & heading, shooting/passing & balancing:

*FMS tests performed by defender Omar Gonzalez of the LA Galaxy and US Men’s National Team.


Scoring & Grading:

The Functional Movement Screen is graded on a scale of 0-3. Each exercise has a set of criteria for scoring and differentiating between scores.

0 – If pain is present during any part of the test.

1 – If the athlete cannot perform the test, but no pain is experienced.

2 – The athlete can perform the test, but with modifications or visible restriction or compensation.

3 – The athlete can perform the test and meet all criteria for the given test.

Objective: To score as close to a perfect 21 as possible without asymmetries, without pain, and without any scores of 1.

If pain is present (score of zero), the athlete must be referred to a clinician (preferably an FMS clinician familiar with the test) to address a potential existing injury.

Match fit players should have a 15+ score without any 0-1 scores.


What do we do with these scores?

The scores guide us toward corrective exercises and treatments to correct movement pattern dysfunctions. Correcting these dysfunctions will reduce the likelihood of injury during training and matches. Compensatory movement patterns allow the body to function, but not optimally or efficiently.  Logically, correcting these weak links in the human body will enhance performance. Asymmetries and (1) scores should be addressed first before trying to improve 2s to 3s. Correct the weakest links before trying to improve good scores to perfect.

This article is part one of a series. Detailed breakdowns of each test and related corrective exercises will follow…


Jesse J. Saenz, D.C. is a Chiropractor in Sacramento, CA who specializes in soccer injuries and athletic performance. Dr. Saenz is the only FMS Certified Clinician in Sacramento and is available for Functional Movement Screening at Epic Chiropractic.