WHAT IS A MOVEMENT SCREEN? A movement screen is an assessment tool physical therapists and performance therapists use to look at movement patterns in athletes. It is used to identify abnormal movement patterns which can contribute to both injury and poor performance. Ideally a movement screen is performed at the conclusion of the athlete’s season, but it can be done anytime. This allows the athlete to obtain objective information on their movement patterns in relation to their sport and develop relevant off season training goals.
WHY IS A MOVEMENT SCREEN IMPORTANT? Athletes all grow and develop at different ages and stages. Some athletes are tall and lanky while others may be short and more muscular. A body moves differently during sports and within a sport. As athletes grow (and sometimes we might see this happen in a very short time frame) or add lean muscle mass, it changes how they move. Long bones grow faster than muscle, and often muscular tightness is found in athletes who have a had a recent growth spurt. This tightness can impair performance. For instance, I often hear baseball coaches tell their players to "stride out longer" however, if you have a physical constraint such as hamstring mobility, there is no way the athlete can stride out longer.
The S.C.O.R.E. CARD is our home-grown musculoskeletal movement assessment which looks at key indicators that are specifically centered on the health and well-being of the athlete and their sport. This whole-body assessment uses a series of tests to identify and pinpoint areas of limited flexibility, weakness, muscular imbalance, and inefficient movement patterns/mechanics that can impair an athlete’s performance and contribute to injury. Even small changes in the body can have a profound effect on how you move and ultimately how you perform.
Currently, we rely on a traditional medical physical for athletes to participate. A physical is a tool for athletes to be cleared to play. A movement screen is a tool that shows if an athlete has the appropriate movement to play. This can be done as a global movement screen or a more sport specific screen. For instance, a football player and baseball player haver different movement needs. Within baseball; a catcher and pitcher have different movement patterns and those need to be identified and evaluated. For example testing a football lineman in the tall plank position provides valuable input to how they may block, while a forearm plank may show a baseball player how their scapula reacts to load. Hip mobility drills might look different in an outfielder vs a catcher.
OUR MOVEMENT SCREEN LOOKS AT
Range of Motion
By identifying and addressing flaws and weak links, we can help our athletes gain the competitive edge. Specific recommendations for areas (spine, shoulder, hip, scapula, ankle) of concern with mobility, stability, and mechanics are made for an exercise/conditioning program. The S.C.O.R.E. provides athletes with an ongoing tool to adjust their training process.
WHAT IS MOBILITY?
Mobility is dynamic; it means your muscles are lengthening and shortening while your joints are also moving. Your muscles and joints work together to move your body through a wide range of motion which requires adequate strength and control. Mobility is having strength within your flexibility. Flexibility refers to the ability of a muscle, or a group of muscles, or tendons to stretch and lengthen, like your hamstring.
So what factors, influence mobility? This might include posture, physical anatomy, positioning (laying on your back vs laying on your stomach), gravity, injury, pain, age, various medical conditions, gender, and overall physical conditioning. I other words, mobility is dynamic and ever-changing. Athletes need to have superior mobility in order to perform at the highest level. Any deficits or imbalances can contribute to injury, pain, and loss of performance. Different sports require different amounts of mobility; a dancer has a significant difference in mobility needs than a football player.
Loss of mobility, even small amounts can increase your chance of injury. For instance, loss of overhead reach (even 5 degrees) can increase a pitchers’ risk of elbow pain by 2-3x times.
WHAT ARE STABILITY AND STRENGTH?
This is your body's ability to safely and effectively maintain and control various postures as well as resist changes in equilibrium. Basically, stabilizing muscles are the most important muscles for supporting and holding your body upright. This is different than muscular strength. An example of stability would be a pitcher being stable in his back leg during the leg lift phase of pitching.
Muscular strength is the amount of force you can put out or the amount of weight you can lift.
There are three primary types of strength:
· Maximum – the greatest force that can be generated
· Explosive – maximum force generated in minimum time
· Muscular Endurance – force that can be exerted for sustained periods
Strength tasks vary within sports. A cross country runner requires endurance while a baseball player might use more explosive and maximum strength in batting.
Even small changes in strength can affect movement. Research indicates ankle sprains have been linked to a reduction of 34% power in an overhead task. Put simply, pain in the muscular system effectively shuts down muscle activity around that area. Our body innately knows what to do and tries to protect the injured body part. In as little as one week, muscle can start to weaken. This weakness leads to subtle compensation and muscle imbalance. With continued activity, muscle imbalance can lead to tendonitis. This creates a cascading effect in the kinetic chain of pain, injury, and impaired performance.
WHAT ARE MOVEMENT AND MECHANICS?
Optimal Movement is a strategy or posture in which you have optimal alignment, biomechanics and control.
Movement efficiency is the ability to understand and manipulate body position, to maintain balance and execute intentional movement, all while expending a minimal amount of energy.
The Three Factors of Movement: Time, Effort & Flow:
-Time is related to speed of movement performed, which is either fast or slow
-Effort is the main and overall factor of movement which is the result of brain body interaction. Force identifies how much muscle tension is involved
-Flow can be free or bounded. Free flow indicates movement that is not interrupted where bounded indicates the opposite. Ballet is more free flow while basketball is more bounded.
The first principle of biomechanics is motion, how an object or body moves through space. The second element is force, the pull or push that enables an object to change direction, slow down or stop. The third principle is momentum, the velocity and weight of an object as it moves.
There are skeletal, muscular and neurological considerations when describing biomechanics. Biomechanical problems are abnormalities in the movements produced by the internal and external forces and the body's ability to react to them. Due to poor biomechanics, the involved joints/muscles/nerves may undergo forces they are not familiar with, causing irritation and aggravation of accompanying tissue plus PAIN.
The SCORE card looks at movement as whole and in isolated positions. It is not just one rep test position. For instance, shoulder mobility may look different from laying on your stomach to laying on your back. A trained profession looks at those subtle changes in test positions to determine if they are problematic or part of a bigger problem.
HOW DO WE SCORE?
The athlete is scored on pass (green), caution (yellow) and fail (green). The athlete must hit all the movement markers for the test to pass. For instance, when looking at squatting, the athlete must squat all the way down and then return to neutral. They must not only complete the task, but complete it with correct form. If the athlete widens their stance to get down lower, or lifts their heels up, these components would indicate failure due to compensation. We are looking for pure and natural movement. These tests are designed to identify categories of mobility restriction, stability or strength restriction, or find a mechanical issues (body mechanics). Let’s dive deeper into these categories.
When an athlete does not pass a movement test, do not think of it as bad or as failure. Areas of "red" are areas for opportunity in growth and true player development. This is how athletes separate themselves from the pack. From here, training can be individualized. This allows us to fit the exercise to the induvial vs the individual to the exercise. Many training programs use this blanket approach to exercise. While a certain percentage of people will benefit, there will be a certain percentage that won't benefit, and in some this may be detrimental to their progress.
After totaling all the movement tests, we break it down to a simple school grading system. Athletes test in the 90%, 80%, 70%, and <70% and lower threshold markers. Why is that? Optimal movement should be in the 90%+ category. How do you have 70% movement quality and have A+ performance? YOU CAN'T!!! This is how athletes separate themselves from the pack; this is can be difference between making your high school team or riding the bench. Correcting your weak links can have a significant impact on your performance.
The other SCORE category we look at is symmetry from right to left side. Athletes should SCORE 90% between testing parameters from each side (like hips and shoulders). Why is this important? Muscular imbalance between right and left side, between front and back sides creates imbalances in forces and serves as a plane of injury. If you can’t accelerate properly, you can't decelerate properly and vice versa. Furthermore, many sports create muscular imbalance just in their nature; baseball hitting and pitching are great examples of this. Repetitive activity over time causes imbalances which need to be corrected during the off-season.
When do your re-test? Yearly! How often do you go to the dentist or have a check-up with your physician? With our growing athletes, this is vital. As little as 1" of vertical growth or a change in 5lbs of muscle mass can change how an athlete moves. Athletes, especially 8th graders going into high school and juniors looking to play in college highly benefit from this type of assessment.
Did you know we can do a Team Score? By testing a whole team, we can identify global areas of concern. For example, this may give a coach relevant data to structure off season conditioning as a group. For example, I recently tested a 13u team, and not one athlete passed the hip strength category. Now would it be nice to know which exercises are best suited to develop hip strength? A team is only as strong as their weakest link.
HOW TO IMPROVE YOUR SCORE?
Performance Therapy!! Performance is an emerging field in physical therapy and looks to bridge the gap between traditional physical therapy and performance training. It blends concepts from physical therapy, medical massage, speed/agility, and personal training. Performance therapy is an integrated 360-degree approach that looks to maximize your physical capacity while correcting weak links. An athlete is given a prescriptive exercise program which is individualized and progressive in nature. Over a series of visits, a graded exercise progression is applied with mobility work, strengthening exercises, and sports specific exercises to correct weak link found in the SCORE card. Throughout this, a customized home program is designed to complement your performance therapy. At the end of treatment, the SCORE card is performed again. This provides a player with true player development path to be worked on during the off-season.
Give us a call to schedule with us!
As we head into the off season, now is the perfect time to schedule your SCORE card for your player. Small group and team discounts are available.
Call us at 224-505-EDGE for an appointment now!