SportsPlus Physio
Unit 25, Quintin's Way, Nenagh, Co. Tipperary Phone: 067 42837   Email:

Predicting Injury; Functional Movement Screening

Although us physiotherapists are pretty good at treating injuries, our main goal is to prevent them happening in the first place. Physiotherapists the world over are using the Functional Movement Screen (FMS) as a predictor of injury in all levels of sport! And if it’s good enough for elite athletes it’s good enough for me! The functional movement screen is a tool used to identify injury susceptibility. It is an individual screen, particularly used in pre-season, to help identify players with poor movement patterns and asymmetries, which are associated with an increased risk of injury.


As we all know too well, participation in sport exposes individuals to a risk of injury. According to the GAA Development Conference 2013 , 2 out of 3 GAA players get injured per season (67% footballers, 71% hurlers). And the GAA folk are not the only ones falling apart, 16-26% of novice runners experience at least one running related injury in the first 2 months of training, and 1 in 4 rugby players are injured per season. That’s a lot of injuries!!!!


As always prevention is better than cure, and identifying those at risk of injury pre-season limits time lost to injury and increases overall player satisfaction. The FMS allows physiotherapists to identify such players before injury strikes!

The screen consists of 7 global body movements, including;

  • Deep squat
  • Hurdle step
  • In-line lunge
  • Shoulder mobility
  • Active straight leg raise
  • Trunk stability push up
  • Rotary stability


These movements are thought to be the foundation of more complex movements required in sport. The screen identifies dysfunctional movement patterns, asymmetries from left to right and general mobility and stability. Each movement is scored from 0-3, as shown in the table below:

FMS Score

The maximum score is 21, however the average score in healthy, but untrained populations, ranges from 14.14 ± 2.85 points to 15.7 ± 1.9 points. 1,  2. A score of less than 14 suggests a greater risk of injury. 3 If you would like to read further about current research into the effectiveness of FMS to predict injury, please follow this link to a very comprehensive review of current literature, a summary of which is below,


In summary, at least 18 studies have assessed whether the FMS score can predict the incidence of injury. Of these 18 studies, 11 have assessed the relative risk of individuals with an FMS score of ≤14 points being injured in comparison with individuals with an FMS score of >14 points. Out of these 11 studies, 4 found that the FMS could not predict injury risk. In the remaining 7 studies, the relative risk was between 1.65 – 11.67 times, which suggests that the FMS may well differentiate between individuals who are at a greater or lesser risk of injury.”


Following completion of the FMS, any identified weaknesses or asymmetries can then be addressed through an individualised training plan.  Current research shows that neuromuscular training can improve FMS scores, and thus decrease the risk of injury.


If you would like to book an individual/team Functional Movement Screen or would like to discuss the screen with one of our physiotherapists, please contact the clinic on 067 42837


Eimear Lynch

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