Movement Screens – A great starting point

Author: Jesse Karpman

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Movement screens are a tool that some Physiotherapists incorporate into their assessments. These screens help with programming and treatment planning.

Physiotherapy assessments will include components of both structural and functional assessments.

  • Structural assessments are what most people would commonly picture when they think of physiotherapy. If your knee is the cause of your pain we assess the structures of your knee, ie. the ligaments, menisci and muscles that act on the knee.
  • Functional assessment would encompass your movement screens. Movement screens are a way to look at global patterns of movements as opposed to isolated movements. There are many variations of the movement screen but all will focus on larger movement patterns.

During my assessments, I will make use of a movement screen that I obtained while completing my Champion Performance Specialist course.

This movement screen looks at posture along with 9 other movement patterns. This screen can be done as a whole or in parts depending on what area of the body is being assessed. The key and most important aspect of the screen is looking to see if a movement pattern can be completed.

  • Can you complete a squat?
  • Can you complete a hinge?
  • What about an overhead reach or upper pull?

Movement Screen Goals

The goal of this assessment is not to trick you, but to analyze your movement pattern.

  1. If you can complete the movement, that’s a success!
  2. Next, it is important to know if there was any pain in completing the movement.
  3. Finally, we observe for compensation patterns. Depending on the movement, compensations could be shifts in the body or knee position, feet turning during the movement or even your head not staying neutral. All of these compensation patterns would provide the therapist with some further information into where the body may have some weakness or tightness.

The body is very complex and will find adaptations to complete necessary movements. You will get from point A to point B, but this can be done in a straight line, or a squiggly path with multiple twist and turns. Of course, the straight path is going to be more efficient and hence this is what we want to work towards.

Compensation Patterns

The compensation patterns observed during the movement screen form the foundation of the treatment plan. If a compensation is weakness based, I include strengthening exercises for the area. If a compensation is tightness based, I include stretching.

It is also important to note that compensation may be a result of unfamiliar movement patters or fear of movement and these are areas that can also be addressed in a treatment plan.

Home Exercise Plan

Your home exercise plan will likely include strengthening and stretching components as well as becoming more comfortable with the specific movement.

As you progress through your program, components of the movement screen will be tested and re-tested. These are a great way to re-test consistently and note where improvements had been made and areas that still need some work.

Whether you are a weekend warrior, parent on the run, or varsity athlete, a movement screen could be a great place to start your journey to stronger, more efficient movements!

Jesse Karpman
Physiotherapist at Pivotal Physiotherapy

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