Why Movement Screening Aids Improvement

If you’ve worked with me in one-on-one or small groups, you may know that I insist on putting my students through a movement screen. But why do I do it?

Think of the word screen. A screen protects by letting the good things through, and keeping the bad things out. An easy way to think of this on the patio door, where air comes in and bugs stay out. A good plan, right?

In the last article called “My #1 Job as a Strength Coach” I said that keeping athletes on the field and injury free is my main goal, because good health is the foundation of improving fitness. Of course, if you get tackled in football, hit in the elbow with a baseball or break a finger wrestling, I can’t do anything about it. Each sport has its inherent risks. But what about the pulled hamstring? The sore rotator cuff? The oblique strains?

This is only possible through a couple different avenues. Number one is understanding not only the risks of the sport, but common overuse injuries inherent to the sport. In baseball, this would be rotator cuff/shoulder/elbow issues in the throwing arm, or oblique strains from high speed rotation. In basketball, knee issues are basically accepted (which shows you how prevalent it is). I’m almost positive some surgeons are working 24/7 to help reconstruct ACL’s in female soccer players.

Most pertinent to you is that to help you reduce injury risk, I need to know a little bit about you. Every single individual has different abilities. Different strengths, weaknesses, motor patterns, mobility and flexibility capabilities. Different training history, different sports played. Kids go through growth spurts at different times; we’ve all seen the pictures of two 13 year olds standing beside each, separated in height by 18+ inches. Please do not gloss over this paragraph – this right here is exactly why “cookie-cutter” programs do not work. What if you don’t fit the mold of the cookie cutter?

What a good movement screen does is tell the exercise professional what good exercises may be helpful (providing safe and effective technique of course), and potentially harmful ones to limit or delete until further proficiency in body control and coordination is reached. This is not only good for you, but for me as well. Oftentimes, taking a potentially harmful exercise away is more important than adding one in.


Now, read the bolded part again. Keep it in your head, because I’m going to devote an entire future article to this topic.


How do I know what is going to be helpful, and what may put you in possible harm?

You got it –  I screen and I assess. I use the FMS screen, which you can learn a little more about here, in addition to other assessments based on what the individual wants and/or needs. Armed with that information, I can now program for your specific areas of strength and weakness. I know what you may need help with, and what opportunities may help you thrive. I can create a custom program and progression that suits your body, your habits, your history and takes into account the risks of your sport. Always remember that the most important way to get better at your sport is to be on the field of play practicing. If you’re hurt, you can’t practice or get better. And that’s really what we want accomplished, right?

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