why selective functional movement analysis

“Consciousness is only possible through change; change is only possible through movement.” ― Aldous Huxley, The Art of Seeing

We utilize a variety of therapies at Pain and Performance Solutions, and one of the chief methods is SFMA.

The Selective Functional Movement Assessment (SFMA™) is a set of seven full-body movement tests that are relatively simple to carry out and they establish a foundation for a series of more complex tests that will then provide a complete roadmap for treatment of pain.

The SFMA enables the evaluating therapist to identify and treat regions in the body that lack mobility (range of motion), or stability (motor control), which then allows for an accurate treatment to be used for restoring pain-free function and movement.

We explain the actual process in more depth on our SFMA service page which you can find here.

And here is a description of SFMA from the Physio-pedia.com website,

“The Selective Functional Movement Assessment (SFMA) was developed by Gray Cook and colleagues, the same group who developed the Functional Movement Systems. The SFMA is meant to be used in a diagnostic capacity for musculoskeletal assessment when pain is present. The SFMA is a clinical model used to assist diagnosis and treatment of musculoskeletal disorders by identifying dysfunctions in movement patterns.

The SFMA is meant to be used by physiotherapists / physical therapists, athletic trainers, chiropractors, and physicians. It was created to measure the status of movement-pattern related pain and dysfunction using bodily regional interdependent movement to aggravate symptoms and expose the limitations and dysfunctions.”

The SFMA was designed to be used in as a diagnostic system to identify musculoskeletal dysfunction in individuals suffering from chronic or acute pain.

Why Use SFMA?

Chronic pain treatment has typically and traditionally been applied mainly to the site of the pain. But what we know and understand today is that the root cause of any particular pain often originates in a completely different location.

This is a physiological phenomenon referred to as “regional interdependence” meaning that one area of the body affects the function and muscular or motor unit recruitment in another area of the body. Muscular or motor unit recruitment simply means the activation of additional motor units to accomplish an increase in contractile strength in a muscle.

In practical terms, this presents the challenge of determining which areas of the body actually need to be assessed. And this is where SFMA™ comes in. 

The seven tests of the SFMA™ approach are applied to identify which movements are painful or dysfunctional. This allows the therapist to determine which areas need to be assessed further.

One way of thinking of the SFMA is that it is similar to an engineer’s approach to analyzing the human body. This is done by going through the system step by step and identifying problems in categories that are similar. Once the problems are identified, the focus then shifts to fixing the problems that can have an overlapping effect on other systems.

This is why, in our opinion, SFMA™ fits so well with Active Release Technique ®. In fact, the two systems are often used together regularly with two days of SFMA™ typically followed by two days of applying ART®. 

The founders of SFMA™ emphatically believe that diagnostics are more important than the form of treatment. Regardless of which effective treatment is applied, whether it’s Active Release Technique ® or some other approach such as fascial stretch therapy, the treatment is not as critical as a proper diagnosis.

Consequently, what is needed first and foremost is a complete diagnostic map and flow chart, which can be provided by using the SFMA ™ and it ensures that regardless of treatment methodology, at least the correct problems will be addressed.

And our experience has shown that SFMA ™, when combined with Active Release Technique ® – the most advanced and recognized form of soft-tissue therapy – the results are achieved quickly and rapidly.

Athletes, Injuries and the SFMA™

According to an article in the International Journal of Sports Physical Therapy,

“An adolescent male athlete with LBP was evaluated using the SFMA. It was determined that the patient had mobility limitations remote to the site of pain (thoracic spine and hips) which therapists hypothesized were leading to compensatory hypermobility at the lumbar spine. Guided by the SFMA, initial interventions focused on local (lumbar) symptom management, progressing to remote mobility deficits, and then addressing the local stability deficit.

…All movement patterns became functional/non-painful except the right upper extremity medial rotation-extension pattern. At discharge, the patient demonstrated increased soft tissue extensibility of hip musculature and joint mobility of the thoracic spine along with normalization of lumbopelvic motor control.”

A number of articles and other studies have been produced relating how the SFMA has been used to evaluate athletes in various sports such as soccer, weight lifting, running, and baseball.

An article in a Humankinetics.com journal referenced a scholarly review of a study of recreational dancers with sacroiliac joint pain who had been assessed with the SFMA. 

The authors noted that,

“[T]he SFMA correctly identified dysfunctions leading to sacroiliac joint pain in 3 dancers. The authors suggested the use of the SFMA to other clinicians as part of their evaluation process and to help with the proper creation of rehabilitation programs to correct the dysfunction.”

Resolving Your Pain Issues

Treating and relieving your pain only begins once we understand where and how your pain started.

A full examination will help us determine which form of treatment is best suited to get you on your road to recovery. Your trust in us is key, as is your honesty.

Our goal is to work through the sequence of pain and dysfunction in order to get your body healthy and working properly and to achieve total recovery. Don’t hesitate to reach out. We are here to help and will answer any questions that you may have.

You can reach us at (707) 636-4404 or by filling out our online contact form.