How We Screen Functional Movement (Series): Active Straight Leg Raise

How We Screen Functional Movement (Series): Active Straight Leg Raise

Welcome Back!

Today will start our series of blogs based on one of our primary fitness screening tools, The Functional Movement Screen (FMS). We will also be discussing…

  • The importance of screening for functional movement
  • How we Protect, Correct, & Develop with our training approach
  • Understanding how Core Stability & Hip Mobility correlate

Functional Movement Screen, Part 1: Active Straight Leg Raise

The Functional Movement Screen has been utilized by many healthcare and fitness professionals for well over a decade. All of our trainers at ChiroFitt are certified in this screening process. It was created and developed, by Gray Cook and Lee Burton, co-founders of Functional Movement Systems. Just as we have blood pressure cuffs to measure and monitor blood pressure and eye charts to measure and monitor vision, the FMS was created to measure and monitor your ability to move at a satisfactory level prior to beginning more intense and repetitive training. In other words, we utilize the FMS to help assist in developing and designing your training program with a focus on what we refer to as the Protect, Correct, Develop Rule.

How We Protect, Correct & Develop…

The first part of this rule stems from the Hippocratic Oath of “First Do No Harm”. We take the opportunity to screen prior to training to understand what exercises or movements we need to temporarily remove from your training program in order to PROTECT you. The second part of this rule is to CORRECT those areas that are not currently at a satisfactory level of movement prior to adding repetition or load to these areas. This is the Move Well. part of the Move Well. Move Often rule that we discussed in our blog post last week (Why we Train Movement, Not Just Muscle: A Joint by Joint Approach).  The third and final part of this rule is to DEVELOP those areas that are at a satisfactory level of movement to help condition and build upon the strong foundation that we proved during the screening process using the FMS. This is the Move Often part of the Move Well. Move Often rule that we discussed last week.

 In addition to looking for satisfactory levels of movement prior to training, the FMS also helps us to expose any movements that may currently produce or cause pain. This is extremely important as we may not be aware of pain associated with movement prior to training and causing further injury without using a screening process like the Functional Movement Screen. The Functional Movement Screen is composed of 8 foundational movements (3 mobility screens, 2 stability screens and 3 functional screens) performed under body weight without any added resistance or load.

How Mobility & Stability Play a Role…

Another training rule that we believe in here at ChiroFitt is Mobility before Stability, Stability before Movement…Movement before Strength. Since Mobility is the first area that we look to restore, if necessary, today we are going to review one of the mobility screens, Active Straight Leg Raise (ASLR), to discuss the importance of why we utilize this as one of the eight screens of the FMS. Before we get started with discussing the details of this test it is important to review the fact that proper mobility requires good stability in regions above and below the area that we are moving, which we reviewed last week. Even though we are predominantly assessing your ability to demonstrate good hip mobility with the ASLR, this screen is also evaluating for good stability, primarily in the core (low back) which allows for us to have proper hip mobility. Let’s review the screen:

How Core Stability Impacts Mobility…

From the picture above, many of us would look at this test and assume that this test looks at hamstring (posterior thigh) flexibility of the up leg. This certainly is one of the requirements necessary to maintain good hip mobility, however there are many other factors that need to be at a minimum functioning level to maintain good hip mobility. As explained above, proper low back and pelvic (core) stability and control are necessary to maintain a solid foundation for the hip to be able to move effectively. Poor core stability can often lead to loss of hip mobility and vice versa.

The other factor that we are screening through the ASLR is the ability to maintain your down leg in the start (or down) position; this demonstrates proper hip extension. This test is performed from both sides so we can also determine if it is equal from side to side. As one side could be satisfactory and the other side not, which we refer to as an asymmetry,  which is also a risk factor for a musculoskeletal injury if not corrected prior to beginning to develop movements that require this pattern. Think of this pattern being similar to walking while lying on your back, as all of these factors are necessary to have a good gait (walking) pattern. Good hip mobility and trunk stability as tested in the ASLR is vital to being able to bend over to pick things up without increasing the risk of hurting our lower back.

What movements to Avoid with a Low Score…

The ASLR screen is also extremely important in runners as an unsatisfactory score of this test may also increase the risk of injury with running since the screen tests our foundational requirements for locomotion (walking, running). This pattern should be corrected and reach a satisfactory level prior to performing exercises that would require hinging or bending from our hips such as the deadlift!  Exercises such as squats and lunges should be used with caution (we will determine the safety of these movements using other screens performed in the FMS, which we will review in the coming weeks).

We hope that this discussion of the FMS and ASLR screen have demonstrated the strong need for a proper fitness screen prior to initiating a training program. For more information on corrective strategies that we utilize in our training programs to help improve the ASLR pattern, continue to follow us on social media (Instagram, Facebook) where we will be posting videos of corrective exercises.

Next week we will be discussing another mobility pattern with focus on the upper extremities, Shoulder Mobility.

Stay Tuned!

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