For access to all of our training, gear, and race coverage, plus exclusive training plans, FinisherPix photos, event discounts, and GPS apps,
sign up for Outside+.
Take this seven-part test to predict if you have an injury in your future.
Triathletes are constantly analyzing everything from their swim stroke to their running form in hopes of identifying areas for improvement. With small changes, stronger performances are produced.
That thinking is what inspired a couple of physical therapists to develop what is known as the Functional Movement Screen (FMS) nearly two decades ago. The FMS is a series of seven movement tests that are guided by the idea that the root cause of many sports injuries is strength imbalances.
Steve Gonser, physical therapist and chief analyst at RunSmartOnline.com, describes the FMS, saying, “The scoring system provides an objective means to classify athletes and their risk for injuries. Once complete, a clinician can further evaluate and understand the ‘why’ behind a particular FMS component.”
If you’re currently injured or experiencing pain while training, heading to your doctor or physical therapist is your best bet. However, if you’re simply interested in where your deficits lie, you may be able to identify certain issues by trying the FMS exercises.
“Whether it’s a lunge, reach, step-up or squat, I’m always looking to assess two things: Can the individual perform the exercise properly, and with good control?” says Gonser.
While the FMS provides a great starting point for identifying weaknesses, Gonser emphasizes that the best way to evaluate an athlete is always in the act. “Observing an athlete in-sport provides the best insight into how an athlete moves and ultimately compensates,” he says.
Interested in testing yourself?
If you notice any of the listed warning signs, it may suggest that you have a weakness or tightness that should be addressed. If you’re looking for an expert opinion, PTs, chiropractors and trainers are often well versed in running these tests and can most accurately give you a numerical score to reflect your overall performance.