Movement Screening: Do athletes need one?

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What are movement screenings?

Movement screens analyze musculoskeletal biomechanics for the purpose of understanding how an individual uses their body to accomplish tasks. The movement strategies we adopt can contribute to improved physical performance while at the same time be contributors to mechanisms of injury. The body was designed to move a certain way based on how the bones, ligaments, tendons and muscles are arranged, we call these biomechanically friendly movement strategies. Our life experiences including sustained postures, previous injury, environment, and body weight, as well as, our culture contribute largely to the movement strategies we develop. Over time, in an effort to perform repetitive task we deem important (sports, work, school, leisure activity), the movement strategies we develop often begin to deviate from our biomechanically friendly strategies. With this shift comes increased risk of injury by decreasing adaptability and compromising structural integrity. Movement screens help to identify these deviations and can be instrumental in tailoring an exercise program to attain biomechanically friendly movement strategies for optimal function and sport performance.

What individuals benefit from a movement screening?

  • Want improved physical condition with ability to adapt for variable training loads
  • Training regularly and want to ensure your workouts are efficient and effective to improve performance and not contributing to increased risks of injury
  • Experiencing red flags for compromised movement competency including wearing joint braces and frequent pain medication use following training sessions or competition

Movement screens are NOT diagnostic and are not intended for identifying the specific contributor to a compromised movement strategy. They are intended to shed light on how our body attempts to perform a task, which can aid in the selection of exercises to develop a training program that works toward biomechanically friendly movement strategies and thus injury risk reduction. Movement screens are proactive.

The information gathered during a movement screen may assist physical therapist, strength and conditioning coaches, or personal trainers determine which specific muscles strength and/or flexibility to assess for furthering their understanding on why a movement strategy was chosen by the individual. This is often the case in physical therapy where injury has already occurred and the practitioner is restoring an optimal healing environment for a specific targeted tissue. Movement screens should not be used in place of the skilled service provided by a physical therapist when it comes to treatment of injury. Movement screens are too general and cannot identify specific structures needing to be addressed, which can only be done through comprehensive assessment.

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