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Magic Trick or Functional Anatomy? [Video]

From the fall of 2009 through to about the beginning of 2014 we were using Grey Cook’s Functional Movement Screen for a large portion of our Assessment protocol with new and existing members.  If you ever went through an assessment with us you will recall the process from the picture below:

For us at the time it was a fantastic tool to help identify and score very specific movement patterns.  Once an individuals screen was scored it served as an indicator for asymmetries that would, if they haven’t already, result in functional movement deficiencies.  From there we would proceed to incorporate corrective exercises to address these impairments.  Professional sports associations even use this same screen as part of their combine testing to help identify potential risk of injury based on the imbalances identified by the screen.  All in all, it’s a pretty cool tool and was light years ahead of the typical step test, sit and reach, sit-up test, push up test etc. that unfortunately many clubs and associations still use today.  The reason I say unfortunately is because many of those tests have been proven to be unreliable for testing what they are supposed to be testing.  For example, the sit and reach was defunct in this study by world renowned expert and fellow Canadian Dr. Stuart McGill back in 2003:

Fast forward to the beginning of 2014 and I was reading a blog post from another fellow Canadian, Dean Sommerset.  He is a Kinesiology Grad and spends a lot of time in the trenches as a Trainer but also keeps up on current research.  He shares a great deal of what he learns and in his blog here:,  I had that light bulb moment.

The video he was referring to in his post really inspired me.  So much so that I have spent thousands of dollars and hundreds of hours relearning from some of the very best in the industry including Dean.  What Dean did with that woman’s hip seemed like a magic trick.  The FMS testing we were doing provided insight into Functional Anatomy but never could it ever help me learn about how the body works like what I have learned since watching that video.

It’s been over 3 years since Dean posted that article and despite the fact that I am a believer in the science behind the outcome, I just had to prove it to myself that what he did wasn’t a trick.  That the woman wasn’t faking her lack of range of motion.  So, once I was confident in my ability to identify the impairment and rule out structural or mechanical restrictions, I had someone grab a video camera and give it a shot.

But before you watch the video, I need to preface the situation.  I was working with a 14 year old athlete who upon evaluation had very limited Internal Hip Rotation.  Normal ranges are upwards of 35 degrees and this boy was locked at about 10 if that.  The main reason behind this demonstration was to prove that just because someone is tight or lacks range of motion, doesn’t mean that stretching will help.  He has a functional impairment.  One of my favorite lines from Dean’s post is,

“The reduction in hip internal rotation is merely a symptom of something else not working properly. Because of this, we could stretch it as much as we like and never see any difference. As a result, we have a generation of people focused on the kinesiology of “stretch the tight” without asking the best question possible: why is it tight in the first place? Muscles don’t just get tight on their own, they’re told to be tight. Figuring out the why helps to target in on the reason, which will help to give better results than simply banging your head against a wall and wondering why your headache doesn’t go away.”

So, without further delay, here is the magic that can happen when you understand Functional Anatomy…



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