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What is a Functional Movement Assessment?


WRITTEN BY: Sports Medicine
Tuesday, July 22nd, 2014

Whether you are a serious athlete, a recreational runner, or trying to get in shape for the first time, one common goal is shared: you want to maximize your workouts and stay injury free. Maybe you’re training for a marathon, or just planning to walk for charity. Maybe you want to look good in a summer swimsuit, or want to shed extra pounds to be able to run around with your kids. Even the smallest fitness goals require some foresight and planning to achieve.

Strength and conditioning programs can help you achieve goals, such as:

  • Building muscles
  • Increasing strength
  • Getting toned
  • Losing weight/fat
  • Becoming healthier
  • Increase flexibility

These types of programs, whether structured or DIY, can be very beneficial in helping you reach your fitness and performance goals. Preexisting muscle imbalances, however, can lead to injuries or hinder your performance.

An assessment by a professional can help evaluate your movement patterns and teach you to retrain your muscles to be more efficient and help you become stronger and healthier.

Functional Movement Assessment

A functional movement assessment (FMA) is a program designed to identify performance issues and help prevent injury. Ron DeAngelo, director of UPMC Sports Performance, explains, “The assessment can help us uncover any muscle weaknesses that may limit your ability to reach a high level of performance or lead to injury.”

During a FMA the specialist will also evaluate the chain reaction of the area of weakness. Think of the song, “the foot bone is connected to the knee bone, the knee bone’s connected to the thigh bone”, etc. The connectivity of your bones means that when you put your foot to the floor, every joint in your body has a job to do and when you feel pain in one area the problem could actually be in a related area.

Three-step Process

Our bodies are great compensators that hide a lot. An FMA serves as a baseline assessment to determine how a person’s body is functioning. An FMA is broken down into three separate assessment pieces.

Ron explains the three sections of an FMA and what the specialist will be looking for:

1. Posture assessment

In this section, the trainer will be observing your natural posture. Efficient movement patterns for running must begin with optimal posture. Poor posture can lead to overuse injuries.

2. Walking and running gait analysis

Next, the trainer will ask you to run so they can observe your movement patterns and uncover dynamic imbalances. Based on your movements, these imbalances will present as short, tight muscles and long, weak muscles.

3. Clinical evaluation

In the clinical element of the assessment your trainer will measure flexibility, strength, and balance. This section can be customized depending on your sport, so body fat measurements, endurance testing, or other performance tests may be added.

Next Steps

After the evaluation is complete the expert will develop a corrective exercise program. The individualized program will use exercises focusing on proper movement, strength, and balance to correct areas of weakness or poor movement patterns. This plan may include:

  • Core workouts
  • Relearning fundamentals
  • Corrective exercises

Regardless of how intense your fitness regimen may be, it’s important to craft a uniquely-tailored program that works best for your body and your goals.

For more information about functional movement assessments, visit the UPMC Sports Performance program online or call 412-432-3871 to schedule an appointment.

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Sports Medicine

UPMC Sports Medicine is the region’s largest and most experienced center dedicated to caring for athletes of all levels. For more than 25 years of world-class care, we’re proud to offer more services, have more physicians, and treat more student athletes than any other sports medicine provider in the region. Read More