Why You Should Get a Functional Movement Screen | STACK

Become a Better Athlete. Sign Up for our FREE Newsletter.

Why You Should Get a Functional Movement Screen

May 4, 2014

Must See Training Videos

You may be a great athlete, but are you anatomically correct? Sure, we are all built with the same basic structure, give or take a few bones and muscles. But even great athletes can experience mechanically erroneous anatomical issues, which can significantly increase their likelihood of injury.

Do you think your body functions optimally? A functional movement screen could prove you need some adaptations.

The NFL has tested its players for movement implications for years. The NHL jumped on board in 2013 during physicals and the rookie combine.

A functional movement screen identifies movement difficulties so strength coaches can make appropriate adaptations. If you're a coach, you may want your players to be screened by a fitness professional—such as a physical therapist—who's qualified to administer the screen.

RELATED: 5 Self-Tests Athletes Must Do Before Off-Season Training

The functional movement screen tests a total of 7 movements:

  1. Squat. The movement is incredibly efficient at building a stronger core, hamstrings and glutes, but almost everyone completes a Squat with poor mechanics. This assessment measures whether your flaws fall within certain ranges. I've noticed especially with hockey players that pelvic tilt issues greatly affect their ability to cleanly complete a Squat, specifically in the back and valgus on the knee.
  2. Shoulder Reach. Screeners look for issues that could affect shoulder girdle instability and deviation. What does this mean for a coach? Less likelihood for labral tear and rotator cuff injuries that can sideline a player for three to four months. The shoulder, man's weakest joint, is highly susceptible to injury. An imbalance here can greatly affect flexibility. You'd be surprised how little flexibility many athletes have in their shoulders.
  3. In-Line Lunge. This movement measures the ability to balance and move simultaneously while keeping the core, spine and neck aligned with the hips. The screener looks for hip imbalances as well as occurrences of impingement at the sacral joint.
  4. Shoulder Clearing. The screener looks for flexibility within each shoulder joint from the front. Pain is a clear indicator of a problem here.
  5. Unilateral Reach. Here, the screener checks for unilateral balance. We want to see whether each side of the body is strong enough to support the weight of the entire body. This movement requires an immense amount of core strength and balance. Don't worry—many people fail this test. Most are able to complete what is referred to as alternating reaching: the left arm and right leg fully extend while you balance on your right arm and left knee. A neutral spine can indicate a strong core and lower back.
  6. Push-Up. This movement requires total body strength. You are expected to be able to lift your body weight with arms narrow at forehead height. Many test subjects are unable to perform this movement, but when lowering the palms to chin level, they are able to press into a fully extended Push-Up.
  7. Supine Hip Flexion. This movement tests range of motion in the hip joint. In addition, it helps gauge hip strength and diagnoses possible misalignment of the pelvis, which can be the cause of lower-back pain, poor posture, and hip impingement. Flexion of the ankle is also important. This can indicate whether you have weak or tight calf muscles, which can negatively affect gait.

Chris Costa
- Chris Costa has participated in athletics as a coach, player and official for 22 years. He specializes in hockey training, both on and off the...
Chris Costa
- Chris Costa has participated in athletics as a coach, player and official for 22 years. He specializes in hockey training, both on and off the...
Must See
Patrick Willis' Homegrown Off-Season Workout
Views: 1,218,796
Brandon Jennings: "Always Improve"
Views: 2,106,933
Michael Jordan: Mind of a Champion
Views: 542,897

Featured Videos

Quest for the Ring: Duke University Views: 217,694
Eastbay: It Begins Now Views: 70,986
Path to the Pros 2015: Training Days Views: 118,412
Load More


STACK Fitness

Everything you need to be fitter than ever

STACK Conditioning

Sport-specific conditioning programs

Coaches and Trainers

Tips and advice for coaches and trainers


Latest issues of STACK Magazine


Women's sports workout, nutrition and lifestyle advice


Gaming, entertainment and tech news

Basic Training

Military-style training for athletes


Find the latest news relevant to athletes

More Cool Stuff You'll Like

How to Find the Perfect Strength Coach or Personal Trainer

"Oh, so you're a trainer?" That's a common followup question coming from people when asking what I do. My answer is always the same. It's an open-ended...

Victor Cruz's Pool Workout with a ViPR

The Training Behind Super Bowl XLIX

Introducing the 2015 'All-Gaines NFL Combine Team'

WATCH: Darnell Dockett Manhandles 655-Pound Tire

WATCH: Travis Kelce's Split-Squat Jump with Battling Ropes

WATCH: Usain Bolt's 2-in-1 Decline Sit-Up with Bench Press

4 Unnecessary Things That Only Overcomplicate Your Workouts

SURVIVING SEALFIT: 3 Ways SEAL-Style Workouts Change Your Life

Home Gyms in the 1800s Were a Lot Like Today's TRX Trainer

WATCH: Michelle Jenneke's Superwoman Push-Ups

Versatility Raises the Value of These 11 NFL Draft Prospects

How to Provide a Spot for the Bench Press


WATCH: Bryce Harper's 550-Pound 'Human Plate Pull'

WATCH: Darnell Dockett's Explosive Sled Row with Training Mask

WATCH: Brandon Thompson's Plate Mountain Push-Ups

Fixing Common Weaknesses in Lacrosse Players

5 Big Benefits of Yoga for Basketball Players

The Comeback Kid: How Scott Kazmir Resurrected His MLB Career

WATCH: Duke Ihenacho's Reverse Hip Raise with Bicycle Kick

Get Lacrosse-Specific Workouts With Bridge Lacrosse

The 13-Exercise Duke Lacrosse Dynamic Warm-Up

Odell Beckham Jr. Shows Out on the Speed Ladder

The 3 Best Posture Exercises That Build Strength

WATCH: 3 Power Moves for the Diamond from Edwin Encarnaci

Lacrosse Players: Get Stronger on the Field with 4 Exercises

Ndamukong Suh's High School Highlights Not What You'd Expect

WATCH: Shawne Merriman's 'Bus Driver' Shoulder Workout

WATCH: Sergio Ramos's Trampoline Wall Touch


WATCH: Vontae Davis's Half-Box Squat with Plate

WATCH: David Wilson's Acrobat Ab Workout

The Dangers of Heat Stress for Athletes

WATCH: Giuseppe Rossi's 360-Degree Pilates Side Plank

Johny Hendricks Gets Back to Basics

Kaitlin Sather Nielsen Does It All

Kevin Love

WATCH: D.J. Campbell's Net Wall Explosive Pull-Up

WATCH: Dez Bryant's Superhuman Punching Bag Abs

Amari Cooper Shows Off Clapping Pull-Ups on Combine Week