Is it too simple? Perception and the FMS…

Written by Brett Jones FMS

“Simplicity is not a simple thing.”  - Charlie Chaplin

In the tradition of many philosopher comedians Mr. Chaplin was dead on with this quote.  And as Leonardo da Vinci reminds us: “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.”  But what does this have to do with movement screening?

How complicated would you say human movement is?

Think on it for a moment…

How do you boil down something as complex as human movement into something accessible across different levels of experience and education on movement?

Well, in the words of Alfred North Whitehead, “…the only simplicity to be trusted is the simplicity to be found on the far side of complexity.” 

So to make a system of screening movement accessible to a wide range of individuals, there was a very deep dive into the complexity of human movement.  The neurology, physiology, biomechanics, and psychophysiological aspects of movement behavior had to be dived into so we could come out the other side with a simple screen.  Gray, Lee and the FMS team took this dive almost 20 years ago and came out the other side with the FMS screen.

But simple has some issues.  In business they refer to perceived value as “a customer's opinion of a product's value to him or her. It may have little or nothing to do with the product's market price, and depends on the product's ability to satisfy his or her needs or requirements.”

So, when you present a simple solution to a complex issue, it is necessary to communicate how the “simple” offering meets and satisfies needs when a complex approach may have more appeal.  Complex can have appeal because a “simple” offering runs a danger of being considered simplistic.  Simple is an “adjective that means “plain, easy, ordinary, or uncomplicated.” A simple solution to a problem is usually a good solution…. The adjective simplistic is a pejorative word meaning overly simplified—that is, "characterized by extreme and often misleading simplicity.”

There is a tendency to choose a complex solution only because the issue appears complex. It can “fit” a perceived value of a complex issue.  

In movement screening, this can best be summed up by the ability to appreciate or categorize movement vs. the ability to change movement.  The FMS is, first and foremost, a screen that allows a wide range of individuals to appreciate and categorize movement.  The ability to change or go deeper into a pattern is not what the screen itself is about.

Whether is it is a parent, school nurse, PE teacher, coach, personal trainer, physical therapist, chiropractor or doctor, there can be an agreed upon ability to appreciate movement and categorize that movement into “buckets” that may or may not need further investigation.  That, in its essence, is the goal of the Functional Movement Screen.  

But wait a minute…What “buckets” are we referring to?

Bucket One is Pain and is represented by a score of ‘0' on a movement pattern.  

Bucket Two is the inability to access a pattern and is represented by a score of ‘1' on a movement pattern. 

Bucket Three is asymmetry and is represented by different scores on the Right and Left “sides” of a movement pattern (on five of the seven screens).

And Bucket Four is “Clear” and is represented by a score of ‘2' or ‘3' on a movement pattern (five of the seven will give you a right/left score so we look for a pair of two’s or three’s on those patterns).

Now I want to be very clear on something here… the person running the screen is NOT responsible for knowing or figuring out the “why” behind a movement getting put into a specific bucket.  That’s right.  The person running the screen does not need to know or figure out “why” the person they are screening has pain or cannot access a pattern etc… They are only responsible for putting the movement in the right category/bucket.  

Take a deep sigh of relief ;-)

Simply run the screen “by the numbers” with an eye on the detail of the set-up, verbal instructions and scoring criteria to properly categorize the movement.  “Why” a pattern is categorized into a specific “bucket” will be worked on later by the professional responsible for trying to change that pattern, if necessary.  

“That is too simple!” you say… “You have to have a ‘Why'!” you say…  That is because you are perceiving the proper categorization of a movement pattern as simplistic instead of simple.

Bucket One

If someone arrives for an FMS screen saying: “Boy, my _____ hurts…” then they automatically go into Bucket One.  And if we discover pain during the seven screens and/or the clearance tests for any reason they also go into Bucket One.  This means we need a referral to a healthcare provider for further evaluation and testing to fully diagnose the painful pattern or part.  The importance and reason for this is discussed in the book Movement. Pain alters motor control, and we need to know if you are moving poorly because you are in pain or do you have pain because you are moving poorly?  We want to look at movement uncomplicated by pain so we can achieve a truer categorization of movement.

Bucket Two

The inability to access a movement pattern simply means we need to look further into that pattern and regain the ability to access it.  This is where a professional skilled in the ability to change movement will go deeper and find a why and how to change the pattern.

Bucket Three

Asymmetries are a difference of score between the right and left sides in a movement pattern.  These can be an expected adaptation to a sporting activity or they can represent a difference in movement between the sides that is significant enough to need to be changed.  Common adaptations might include rotational or throwing athletes like golfers or baseball players.  In many cases these adaptations are expected.  Remember it is not the job of the person running the screen at the time to know why but simply to put the movement in the right category.  Does every asymmetry need to change?  We will not know that until the professional responsible for going deeper into the patterns has a chance to look into what lies under the pattern.

Bucket Four

“Clear.”  A score of Two or Three or pairs of Twos or Threes that shows competency and access to a movement pattern without pain.  This does not indicate perfection nor promise “protection” from issues.  It simply means that in accordance with Principle One (Move well…Move often) that the person moves well enough to adapt to work on this pattern.

The details and specifics of how to run the FMS screen properly are laid out in the Level 1 Online course and reinforced in the FMS Level 2 seminar.  Look into these options to learn how to perform the FMS screen and begin to categorize movement.

In the next article, we will look at each pattern and how the simple pattern gives us much deeper information.

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    Brian Cox, DC, PT 2/28/2017 3:34:24 PM

    Useful summary.  Thanks.