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Grading the Functional Movement Screen: A Comparison of Manual (Real-Time) and Objective Methods

Whiteside, David; Deneweth, Jessica M.; Pohorence, Melissa A.; Sandoval, Bo; Russell, Jason R.; McLean, Scott G.; Zernicke, Ronald F.; Goulet, Grant C.

Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research: April 2016 - Volume 30 - Issue 4 - p 924–933
doi: 10.1519/JSC.0000000000000654
Original Research

Abstract: Whiteside, D, Deneweth, JM, Pohorence, MA, Sandoval, B, Russell, JR, McLean, SG, Zernicke, RF, and Goulet, GC. Grading the Functional Movement Screen: a comparison of manual (real-time) and objective methods. J Strength Cond Res 30(4): 924–933, 2016—Although intertester and intratester reliability have been common themes in Functional Movement Screen (FMS) research, the criterion validity of manual grading is yet to be comprehensively examined. This study compared the FMS scores assigned by a certified FMS tester to those measured by an objective inertial-based (IMU) motion capture system. Eleven female division I collegiate athletes performed 6 FMS exercises and were manually graded by a certified tester. Explicit kinematic thresholds were formulated to correspond to each of the grading criteria for each FMS exercise and then used to grade athletes objectively using the IMU data. The levels of agreement between the 2 grading methods were poor in all 6 FMS exercises and implies that manual grading of the FMS may be confounded by vague grading criteria. Evidently, more explicit grading guidelines are needed to improve the uniformity and accuracy of manual FMS grading and also facilitate the use of objective measurement systems in the grading process. Contrary to the approach that has been adopted in several previous studies, the potential for subjective and/or inaccurate FMS grading intimates that it may be inappropriate to assume that manual FMS grading provides a valid measurement tool. Consequently, the development and criterion validation of uniform grading procedures must precede research attempting to link FMS performance and injury rates. With manual grading methods seemingly susceptible to error, the FMS should be used cautiously to direct strength and/or conditioning programs.

1School of Kinesiology, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan; and

2Athletic Department, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan

Address correspondence to David Whiteside, davidwhiteside@gmail.com.

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Copyright © 2016 by the National Strength & Conditioning Association.