Movement Chapter 9: Analyzing the Movements in Screens and Assessments

This is a chapter 9 summary of the book “Movement” by Gray Cook.

While I have broken up these sections into patterns, much of what Gray talks about does not involve the patterns themselves, but are still good points to know. Ergo, much like the book itself, this post may seem a little disjointed 🙂

The Deep Squat

One’s inability to squat is not considered a single problem. Instead, a disconnect is present between the body and the brain in the squatting pattern. Our brain sees things in patterns, and the squatting pattern essentially gets smudged. Before performing the squat as an exercise, we must first groove an optimal movement pattern.

Preferably while listening to someone groovy like Marvin Gaye

One interesting point regarding the squat is that as an exercise it is often a top-down based movement. However, when we learn to squat in development, the movement occurs bottom-up. So one way to train the squat is by starting from the bottom of the squat and working to standing. This method ensures full mobility to perform a full deep squat.

To relate the SFMA to the squat pattern, Gray is very clear about not training the squat if one cannot touch his or her toes.

Hurdle Step and Single Leg Stance

These two movements simultaneously test mobility and stability of both legs. Oftentimes in these patterns you will see a high-threshold strategy (HTS), in which a hyper-protective core response occurs. Research demonstrates that this stabilization strategy can cause poor motor control to occur. These tests also are basic precursors for stepping, running, and climbing.

In this section Gray also mentions that he does not recommend assessing static postures; namely because posture is dynamic and changing.

Inline Lunge

The inline lunge is more a test of control and efficiency as opposed to strength.  Because we talk about control, we must discuss stability. It is important to note that stabilizers do not necessarily need to be strengthened, as these muscles will never be able to overpower prime movers. Instead, these muscles should be trained for endurance, timing, or quicker action.


Shoulder Mobility Reaching Test

These tests assess reciprocal arm patterns and thoracic spine mobility. The movement is challenging because opposing movements end up borrowing mobility and stability from other segments, thus potentially impairing these qualities.

Thoracic extension is necessary to perform this pattern. However, oftentimes people will compensate with thoracic flexion. This compensatory pattern can rob the scapulae of ground to help stabilize the movement.


Active Straight Leg Raise

There are several necessary components to perform this movement optimally:

  • Adequate down leg extension (otherwise substitution with anterior pelvic tilt and lordosis occurs).
  • Adequate mobility and flexibility of the elevated leg.
  • Pelvic stability prior to and during the movement.

Another interesting tidbit from this section was that research has demonstrated that one’s ability to perform a sit and reach correlated with arterial flexibility.


Core Stuff

The pushup, rotary stability, and rolling patterns all assess core functioning. In particular, the pushup looks at reflexive core action, rotary unilateral and diagonal patterns, and rolling the ability to separate upper and lower quadrants.

It’s all in the reflexes.

Movement Chapter 6: Functional Movement Screen Descriptions

This is a chapter 6 summary of the book “Movement” by Gray Cook.

Screening Keys

The FMS is not considered a training or competition tool; it simply ranks movements.  Here are the keys to a successful screen.

First off, know the following bony landmarks

  • Tibial tuberosity
  • ASIS
  • Lateral and medial malleoli
  • Most distal wrist crease
  • Knee joint line

3 repetitions are performed for each movement, and it is important to stand far away so the whole movement can be seen. When testing both sides, take the lowest score if an asymmetry is present.

Here are the movements (videos courtesy of Smart Group Training).

The Deep Squat

Purpose: Full-body coordinated mobility and stability; linking the hips and the shoulders.

Here is how it is done.

Hurdle Step

Purpose: Evaluate stepping and stride mechanics.

Here is how it is done.

Inline Lunge

Purpose: Test deceleration and left/right function utilizing contralateral upper extremity patterns and ipsilateral lower extremity patterns.

Here is how it is done.

Shoulder Mobility

Purpose: Evaluate scapulothoracic rhythm, thoracic spine and rib mobility.

Here is how it is done.


Purpose: Tests hip flexion, hip extension, and core function.

Here is how it is done.

Trunk Stability Pushup

Purpose: Tests reflexive core stability.

Here is how it is done.

Rotary Stability

Purpose: Check multi-planar pelvic, core, and shoulder girdle stability. Also looks at reflexive stability and transverse plane weight shifting.

Here is how it is done.

FMS Conclusions

The FMS is designed to give a corrective pathway that may involve temporarily ceasing potential risk activities. Many things can perpetuate faulty movement, so it is best to control as many variables as possible. Here are some possible activities that may be compromised if one scores lower than a 2 on the screen.

  • ASLR:  Heavy closed-chain loading activities, running, plyometrics.
  • Shoulder mobility: Heavy or overhead pushing/pulling movements.
  • Rotary stability: Conventional core training, high threshold training that requires core control.
  • Trunk stability pushup: Heavy upper/lower extremity loads; vigorous plyos.
  • In-line lunge: Exercises and loads involving the lunge pattern
  • Hurdle step: Exercises and loads involving the single leg stance pattern
  • Deep Squat: Exercises and loads involving the squat pattern.
Loads? The way you’re moving you don’t need loads.

The Basic FMS

Now I know what you are thinking. “Zac, there is no way that some of my clients can perform all these tasks.” Well, Gray has an answer for you.  The FMS does not have to be performed in its entirety, and can be progressed in the following fashion:

BASIC FMS: ASLR, shoulder mobility, and pain-clearing tests.

and then

Rotary stability along with flexion and extension clearing tests

and then

Pushup test if appropriate.

and then

Hurdle step

and then

Inline lunge & deep squat.