I had a Functional Movement Screen to be a Faster, Stronger Runner

I’d heard about the functional movement screen, but I didn’t know anything about it. Then I heard it could help with running.

Running season is well underway, and I’m still as slow as a tortoise.

Slow but steady; but that will not win you races. Nevertheless I’m still trying – I’ve completed my fair share of races, from half marathons to a full marathon on my 30th birthday.

I’ve done a half marathon already this season and I hope to do another full marathon in the fall. At the rate I’m going, however, it won’t happen.

I wanted to improve my running since it’s really the only sport I can claim. I wanted to improve both my pace per mile and the distance I can run.

I heard about a functional movement screen after I interviewed Mike Muldoon, a Lahey Health Physical Therapist, for a Facebook Live interview.

I signed myself up for one of the screenings at Lahey Outpatient Center, Danvers, where I met Beth Hayes, one of the physical therapists here charged with getting patients in better shape, whether it be assessing a person’s golf swing or recovering after surgery.

For those who don’t know what a functional movement screen is, here’s a brief primer. The Functional Movement Screen™ (FMS) is a screening tool designed to evaluate and identify human movement patterns that could increase an individual’s risk for injury related to sports, recreation and exercise for athletes of all skill levels.

It’s a 7-point test that is designed to see areas of weakness in movement so that subsequent injuries can be prevented with corrective exercises. The screen was developed by Gray Cook, a physical therapist and one of the world’s most respected injury-prevention specialists. Cook argued most injuries were not related to stress but rather imbalance and improper movement patterns.

When I met Beth, she asked me to remove my shoes (thank goodness I’d recently had a pedicure!).

She explained the screen “was meant for anyone from a weekend warrior to the professional athlete or marathon runner.”

She asked me to step over a string stretched between two poles, move into a deep squat position, then get on all fours and extend opposite leg and arm combinations so she can look see if there was anything abnormal with my balance.

Beth scored my movements 0 to 3, the latter being a solid movement without any compensation from other body parts. I did get some 3s. But I got some 2s. The maximum score anyone can get is 21. I got a 16, which is still OK, but I have some areas that need bolstering if I want to do my best to avoid injuries.

Research on interscholastic, intercollegiate and professional athletes has reliably shown that athletes who score under 14 of 21 points on the FMS are twice as likely to sustain an injury during the season as those who score 14 or greater.

“Even professional athletes get a score below 21 sometimes,” Beth said.

My problem area – no surprise – was my core. Later on that day, Beth emailed me a few different workouts (planks galore: side, front and alternating arm and leg!) that would improve my core and make me a better runner. The screen identified one part of training that can help improve my running skill.

I’ve been following her recommendations for a couple weeks now, and hopefully I can muster the strength to run the fall marathon before my 38th birthday this year!

If you would like more information on our Physical Therapy program, check out our website.


*The content on this website is for informational purposes only and is not medical advice. Please consult a physician regarding your specific medical condition, diagnosis and/or treatment.

MORE IN Real Stories