< Focus Physio Blog

Breaking down the FMS

Ever wondered about the 7 movements that we put our clients through?

< Focus Physio Blog

Breaking down the FMS

Ever wondered about the 7 movements that we put our clients through?

The FMS is the screening tool used to identify limitations or asymmetries. It measures seven fundamental movement patterns that are key to functional movement quality in individuals with no current pain or known musculoskeletal injury.

Following on from our previous post, here is a breakdown of the movements or components that make up the FMS.


1. Active straight leg raise

2.Shoulder mobility

3. Ankle mobility

4. Rotary stability

5. Trunk stability push up

6. Inline lunge

7. Hurdle step

8. Deep squat


1. Active Straight Leg Raise:

The Active straight leg raise (ASLR) looks at your ability to perform flexion of the raising leg whilst performing extension of bottom leg at the same time. Itis not purely a hamstring mobility test as it looks at lumbo-pelvic control —how well you can execute both hip flexion and reciprocal hip extension which requires appropriate stabilisation of the pelvis and lumbar spine. This is a foundation of locative patterns and used in may everyday activities such as walking to the car, climbing stairs etc. It is also a critical component of the hip hinge which enables us to control our centre of mass through the hips while protecting the spine in many daily, work and sport movements e.g. deadlifting to lift a heavy object.

2. Shoulder Mobility:

The shoulder mobility (SM) test looks at a full reciprocal reaching motion of the arms to see if moving both arms at once compromises movement on either side as well as the ability of the thoracic spine to produce extension. We use the length of your palm to guide our scoring. Reciprocal movement of the arms is part of gait and locomotion and is very important in sport activities such as throwing, striking and swinging movements. In daily life our ability to carry, push, pull and reach overhead is influenced by the upper body reciprocal pattern and mobility and control.

3. Ankle Mobility:

The Ankle mobility test looks at mobility of your ankle to insure it is not a barrier to movement. This is very important because if someone lacks ankle mobility, due to some sort of restriction or pain, it can significantly alter the rest of the kinetic chain from the ankle upward. This negatively impacts movement quality due to decreased sensory feedback from the ground and increases the chance of movement compensations that will adversely impact activities, fitness training and sports performance. Literature has found that lacking ankle dorsiflexion can be a standalone risk factor for future injury.

4. Rotary Stability:

The Rotary stability (RS) test looks at our ability to resist rotation and maintain position when there is a push or pull on one side of the body. It is a low-threshold, anti-rotation pattern that we use when learning to crawl, climb and run as kids. As adults, we brace the opposite side of our body when lifting up a heavy object using one arm. In any sport that involves punching or throwing a ball, we need the ability to coil and uncoil the torso to transfer forces to our extremities using this movement pattern that can be seen in a range of many other sports and activities.

5. Trunk Stability Push Up:

Unlike Rotary Stability, the Trunk stability push up (TSPU) pattern looks at ahigh-threshold, bracing pattern that is required to support many important activities, typically when pushing a heavy object forwards such as a lawnmower or sled, and lifting something heavy overhead. It is involved in any movement that forces the trunk out of alignment. This pattern helps transfer forces from the lower body to the upper body such as when we are running or jumping in various sports.





6. Inline Lunge:

The Inline lunge test (ILL) looks at your ability to lower your centre of mass in a split stance position whilst maintaining a vertical spinal position with reciprocal upper extremity positioning. We see lunging in sport when a football player needs to quickly decelerate and cut into a different direction by lowering his centre of mass to the ground. It is also in a developmental posture called half kneeling which is a crucial transitional position between the ground to standing, used when pulling weeds out of the ground or picking up a coin off the floor. It can also be a position of bracing when pushing a couch across the floor or holding this position when shooting a gun.

7. Hurdle Step:

The Hurdle step test (HS) looks at range of motion of the stepping leg whilst also looking at stability of the stance leg. This pattern is very important in runners or any single-leg movements such as stepping over obstacles, walking up a flight of stairs etc. This transition from single leg to double leg allows a bowler to transfer energy from the ground into throwing a ball. It is relevant at work when people load one side to perform off-centre tasks and reach from a narrow base over a single leg such as when climbing a ladder.

8. Deep Squat:

Lastly, the Deep squat (DS) looks at whether you can move symmetrically into a deep squat with full mobility of hips, knees and ankles whilst maintaining an overhead position of the arms. If you are able to maintain overhead position of the arms, this means you can fully access the lower body without robbing movement from the upper body and torso. It is important to be able to squat to lift heavy objects whilst protecting our spine, in sport when we need to lower our centre of mass to resist a push from the opponent. It is a very prevalent pattern in labourers who are constantly raising and lowering their centre of mass while building or laying down tiles etc.

All of the above movements will be observed and given a score from 0-3 based on the best of three attempts. A score of zero will be given if there is any pain during the movements or clearing tests and requires further investigation because we know that pain alters movement and unless addressed; will continue to cause dysfunction. A score of 1 means movement is less than adequate and needs to be corrected with “corrective exercises”. It also means you will be unable to do certain movements or exercises whilst we correct this pattern to the baseline score of 2.A score of 2 or 3 in a movement means you are already movement literate and itis safe for you to load and train these patterns to a higher capacity.

The Corrective Strategy Algorithm points us to the “weak link” that must be addressed first i.e. score of 1. It is important that the mobility patterns(Active Straight Leg Raise, Shoulder Mobility and Ankle Mobility) are addressed first because good stability/motor control cannot be present with reduced mobility. Once appropriate mobility is achieved, allowing adequate sensory input so that stabilisation strategies can be developed, motor control patterns(Rotary Stability, Trunk Stability Push Up) can be addressed. Lastly if you have good mobility and motor control but have 1s in the functional patterns (Inline Lunge, Hurdle Step, Deep Squat) then this must be corrected.

As you can see, the FMS is a fantastic screen for assessing someone’s ability to move and perform patterns that we see as a foundation in every day life, work or sport. If you feel like you have hit a plateau at the gym with your personal bests or are wanting to improve your running, or anything else, then I would encourage you to come do the FMS in order understand what your weakest link is and learn how to move well and, move better.