Improve Performance with Functional Movement Assessment (SFMA)

I just finished a great two-day course on Select Functional Movement Assessment (SFMA)! I'm really excited to incorporate this movement based approach to treating pain. What is it?

SFMA is a series of 7 full-body, functional movement tests (i.e., squatting, bending, etc.) that detect deficits in mobility and stability which can increase the risk of injury, compromise athletic or work performance, and reduce overall quality of life.

Athletes must be able to perform a wide variety of movements to safely and effectively participate in their sport. Therefore, rehabilitation and pre-participation screening have moved away from a traditional isolated assessment towards a more dynamic functional approach.

SFMA Assessment

SFMA helps uncover deficits that may be overlooked in traditional medical or performance evaluations. During a detailed assessment, the clinician is looking carefully for  inefficient movement patterns that are used to compensate for weakness or injury.

Without correction, the dysfunctional activity will continue and further reinforce poor biomechanics which can lead to decreased performance and ultimately injury.


I'll give you an example from my own experience.

I've recently started Crossfit, so I've been doing alot of squats lately. I find it difficult to go into a deep squat position with my arms overhead , sometimes causing me to lose my balance and take a step backward.

The SFMA shows that my problem stems from decreased shoulder mobility, insufficient thoracic spine (upper back) movement and poor ankle range of motion. My lack of ankle motion is a result of several ankle injuries during years of playing soccer, while my upper body deficits are just natural dysfunctions.

I've subconsciously developed a risky movement pattern to compensate for these weaknesses. I will either take a stance that is too wide or I will turn my feet out. In addition, my lack of upper spine motion causes me to bend forward at the bottom of the squat.

Click here to see a pic of meworking on my squat atBrazen Athletics


 Targeted treatment (manual therapy and therapeutic exercise) begins by addressing dysfunctional/non-painful movement patterns. This way, the intervention is not adversely affected by pain.

I will have a fellow colleague provide manual therapy to my shoulder, upper spine and ankles to improve my mobility at these joints. I will also need to reprogram my movement pattern to properly utilize improved mobility in perfecting my overhead squat.