Selective Functional Movement Assessment

Selective Functional Movement Assessment

The SFMA (Selective Functional Movement Assessment) is a movement based diagnostic system composed of a series of 7 fundamental movement patterns. These tests are designed to assess patterns of movement (such as bending and squatting) in individuals with known musculoskeletal pain. The assessment provides an efficient method to systematically find the source of symptoms by logically breaking down dysfunctional movement patterns and diagnosing their root cause as either a mobility problem or a stability/motor control problem.

This systematic process allows our doctors to clearly match their intervention to the main source of the problem in our patients. The SFMA model efficiently integrates the concepts of altered motor control, the neurodevelopmental perspective, and regional interdependence into musculoskeletal practice.

The overall goal of the SFMA is to identify specific movement limitations that cause you pain. It can also determine if these movements are due to tightness or weakness. It is important to explain “tightness” or “weakness” in this context. Essentially, the SFMA calls “tightness” a joint mobility dysfunction and/or tissue extensibility dysfunction, and “weakness” a stability and/or motor control dysfunction.

To accomplish this, the SFMA looks at seven movement patterns that broadly assess how you move. There is a baseline criteria for each of the movement patterns that everyone should be able to achieve. This baseline criteria is graded in two ways: functional or dysfunctional, painful or non-painful.

Once we figure out which movements are functional, dysfunctional, painful, or non-painful we can narrow down problematic regions of the body. When one of the seven movement patterns is found to be dysfunctional, we examine a subset of movements to figure out why. The SFMA calls these sub-movements “breakouts”.

It is important to note that the SFMA is not a treatment. It is exactly what it says it is: an assessment. We take the information gained from this type of assessment (i.e. diagnosis of joint mobility dysfunction, tissue extensibility dysfunction, or stability/motor control dysfunction) to determine the best course of treatment to address the cause of the dysfunctional movement.