Movement Screens

This issue just keeps coming up in my life and practise.  I’ve gone from one extreme to the other on this topic.  When I was working as a personal trainer and early in my therapy career I was massively in favour of movement screens.  I was kind of brought up on them in my personal training career, looking for a way to make sense of the complexity of human movement.  During my year on GIFT I have to say I swung to the other extreme.  By the time I became a facilitator on GIFT 2009 I was dead against them, the Gray Institute set a task to develop a Movement Screen, which was a great learning opportunity.

Since then I have been back and for!!  Some times I try and work out my own movement screen and sometimes I’m back opposing them like they’re the devil…Very confusing for me!!!  Can’t make my frigging mind up!  At the FASTER conference Kelvin Giles talked on a few areas, which included a physical competency test…and so I’m back thinking about screening again!!  Since one of the reasons I started blogging 2 years ago was to try and clarify my thoughts on issues I can’t make my mind up about…I thought I should put it to work 🙂 So today I thought I would lay out the positive and negatives of a movement screen…whether there will be a conclusion who knows!!

Positives of a Movement Screen

  • It gives you a bench mark from which to start with:

If you are trying to progress someone in therapy or performance it’s very difficult to know what you’ve achieved if you don’t know where you are starting.  A movement screen could tell you where you are, so begins the journey, shows you the direction you should travel and gives you a bench mark to see how far you’ve come.

  • It gives you a snap shot of the patients ability:

Some patients show you their movement dysfunction as they walk into the room, others are able to compensate so well you have to really push them to find the dysfunction.  A good movement screen could expose these dysfunctions and show you areas that even elite performers can work on to improve performance or reduce pain.

  • It gives you data to look back on and see progression/or not…and to see if any trends appear:

One thing about injury prevention is that it’s difficult to prove something hasn’t occurred.  Most of the time the best we can do is be observant of trends and use our knowledge and instinct to guide us.  If you are consistent with screening you have a better chance of seeing a pattern and therefore better able to adapt training in the long run.

Negatives of a Movement Screen

  • It needs to be measurable and repeatable, which makes a true functional movement screen very difficult:

This is probably my major doubt, to make something consistent, reliable, measurable, repeatable, etc you have to take the movement so far away from function what you are measuring maybe a long way from the functional movements we see in sport.  This raises the question of a movement screens true value.

  • Finding a correlation between the tests and movement performance is very difficult:

Like I said, if the movements tested are very distant from the movements you are using in your sport it is very difficult to draw conclusions.  And of course, if you dealing with people in different sports, different positions within a team, different injuries, different stages of recovery, etc…your movement screen will have to adapt.

  • As a believer in function; testing in true functional movement patterns is nearly impossible:

The complexity of movement is kind of obvious, but to quantify it’s subtleties is almost impossible.  Even with relatively basic functional movement skills the number of movements of body parts in all 3 planes makes life quite tricky when you want to find a repeatable measure.

  • It really comes down to the skill of the therapist…not the screen!

While working with Lesley McBride we talked about this a lot.  I was in a stage of being dead against movement screens (not sure why so extreme at the time!!), and I couldn’t see their value.  Lesley changed my mind in that…(thanks Lesley) and I realised something important…a successful movement screen is more down to the skill of the therapist than the movement screen.  However, this leaves you with one significant problem, what works for one therapist won’t work for another and it is likely that inter tester reliability is really poor!!


I’ve reached my self imposed word limit….so I’ll have to pick this up on Thursday if that’s ok?  I want to discuss a few other issues and then try and draw a few conclusions…in the mean time if you have anything to add please post it in the comments and we can try and iron this movement screen thing out 🙂


Movement Screens – Part 2



Powered by Facebook Comments

, , ,

14 Responses to Movement Screens

  1. dominic meacher May 22, 2012 at 1:25 pm #

    What about filming the movement(s) that causes pain then treating/training and re filming?

    • physioblogger May 22, 2012 at 9:02 pm #

      Hi Dom,
      Thanks for commenting. That’s defo an option, but I’m more thinking about a screen of healthy individuals and trying to identify/quantify movement to predict performance and injury risk. I think video is something that could play a major role.


  2. Brett May 22, 2012 at 1:27 pm #

    I agree with both sides to this argument/discussion and I have found that discerning any difference pre and post treatment with elite athletes is the most difficult to ascertain. They adapt to ensure they are constantlyat thetop of their game. Hence why I am interested as to what comes next. I realise I am stating the obvious when I say that for Joe Bloggs looking at movement patterns can be a make or break for them continuing with you as a practitioner. Since doing FAKTR and now using IASTM tools as part of my arsenal patients love to see results post treatment. It also helps them to understand what it is Ian trying to achieve with them.
    Keep up the good work mate…..enjoy reading this sort of stuff on the way to work!

    • physioblogger May 22, 2012 at 9:03 pm #

      Thanks for your input Brett, much appreciated…I feel pressure building for Thursday!!!


  3. Matt Fowler May 22, 2012 at 3:19 pm #

    Hi Neil,

    I have been left in exactly the same confused state as yourself, I wasn’t a massive fan of movement screens up until the point I heard Kelvin talk about them in sport and there benefit as a tool to show how far or not so far the athlete/client has progressed and whether they are ready to be moved forwards to the next stage. I have a feeling I will start to introduce them in to my client assessment but look forward to hearing your summary on Thursday.

    • physioblogger May 22, 2012 at 9:04 pm #

      Hi Matt,

      Thanks for commenting, it’s a really interesting topic…not sure what the answer is…but I think exploring it is half the fun 🙂


  4. Malcolm Innes May 23, 2012 at 2:29 pm #

    Interesting discussion & really looking forward to the next installment on Thursday!

  5. Nicky Kirk May 23, 2012 at 2:47 pm #

    Hi Neil

    I was just curious since they are supposed to follow a criteria indicating pass of fail based on a patients ability to perform the screen, if one were to use say Kinesiocapture to record the test surely this removes the subjectivity of the testing. I think for me the value of the test for patients is a little limited in as much as they don’t seem to get excited about the battery of tests performed. I’ve used it quite a bit over the last year and it never seems to quite deliver the information that I want, if theat makes sense. I think at almost $200 money might be better spent on KCAP or other program. (I don’t work for Kcap by the way!)

    • physioblogger May 23, 2012 at 6:56 pm #

      I love Kcap too!! I agree that almost what ever ‘screen’ you do it never really satisfies the needs you think it will?


  6. dave poole May 23, 2012 at 3:23 pm #

    ultimately it depends on what u use them for. in academia, the redutionalist approach will always want a cure and affect, and using things like IKD’s and motion analysis, quantifiable data will be sought. If the client is more focused on felling better or getting leaner then movement screens may not be particularly necessary.

  7. Nicky Kirk May 24, 2012 at 3:25 am #

    @dave poole

    Agree with that, also here in the states are useful for justifying medical necessity to medicare and insurance companies. Not really of any benefit to the patient but useful for the practitioner.

  8. Lesley May 28, 2012 at 10:34 am #

    As you said I do use movement screens with my rugby players and sports scholars – but every screen is different and when I identify a “weak” link in a movement chain I explore and push that particular aspect further to decide whenther or not it may be a risk to the athlete. If it is we can work on imporving it if not we may leave it as it is. I also video the athletes so even if I am not working with them we can rescreen at a later date and make sure their S & C training is not worsening potential issues (i.e. decreasing ROM by hypertrophy of global muscles to the detriment of flexibility and stability.)

    • physioblogger May 28, 2012 at 12:09 pm #

      Thanks Lesley 🙂


  1. Movement Screens - Part 2 - Physioblogger - September 8, 2013

    […] Movement Screens – Part 1 […]

Leave a Reply