Finding Balance Between Mobility & Stability

The Functional Movement Screen (FMS) is a test that I did frequently in California, and am slowly incorporating it in with my work in Denver. You can read more detail about this screen here, but what I like about it is that it gives someone real data based on their mobility, stability, and asymmetrical movements. All things that everyone should know, especially active people. Read on below to see why…


Let’s start with some definitions

  • Mobility: unrestricted movement
  • Static stability: maintaining proper alignment without moving, while another body part is moving
  • Dynamic stability: unrestricted movement while maintaining proper alignment

 Four basic filters of the FMS

1. Pain: pain changes everything. It uncovers a warning sign that something it going on either chemically or mechanically in your body. It also changes the way you move and creates dysfunctional training

2. Limited movement: not just looking at individual limitations, but multiple joint movements at once. Because CF does multiple joint exercises where more than one joint moves at a time. For example, during a squat the following joints are moving: ankle, knee, hip and spine. This is different than just doing a single joint exercise like the ham curl machine at the gym.

3. Asymmetrical movement: there is a lot of this present whether you were born with it (scoliosis) or it developed over time (tennis player using the same arm over and over again).

4. Intentional redundancy: the FMS looks at specific joint movements, with most of them appearing in more than one of the tests. For example, shoulder flexion is observed in four tests and hip extension is observed in five tests. This helps to find consistent limitations as well as observe the joint movements during different positions.

Static (plank) and dynamic (push-up) stability

Here are a few of the dysfunctions that I find commonly during these screens:

  • Decreased ankle range of motion and stability
  • Decreased knee and hip flexion
  • Decreased hip stability and mobility
  • Decreased spine mobility
  • Asymmetrical shoulder mobility
  • Decreased core stability
  • Decreased shoulder stability

The purpose of the FMS is not to say, “your hips are tight so stretch them”. Although this may be the case, it’s usually more detailed than this. The exercises that are recommended based on the test results may help to address a mobility problem, but they also address stability and possible motor problems that you may have developed over time of dysfunctional training. A variety a exercises were given to the athletes for the above dysfunctions in hopes that they will improve on their score and during their workouts.

Dynamic stability

Yes, it’s good to have the mobility  to move through different exercises safely and efficiently. However, you can overdo mobility. If you don’t have the stability/strength to maintain the correct form as you move, you are decreasing your efficiency and putting yourself at risk for injury. So whether you have had the FMS done or not, the take home message is that stability exercises need to be incorporated into your preparation and recovery in addition to mobility. I usually sneak some into the mobility classes that I teach…….like holding downward dog with the band on your hip after we’ve worked on overhead mobility. I will bring more attention to it during class so you can start to add it into your routine as well!!

If you want to schedule a time to do the FMS, please e-mail me



Cook, Gray et al. Movement: Functional Movement Systems. On Target Publications. 2010. Pg 79-84.

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