WHY WE ASSESS MOVEMENT
At AXSOM, when we register a new athlete or client for programming, one of the first things we require is a movement assessment. This is no different with our online clients, in fact, when combined with a coach-athlete dialogue and our on-boarding questionnaires, we have found our digital movement pattern assessment to be just as effective as our in-person screening. With this option, an athlete simply follows a step by step process of performing basic movement patterns, usually right from their home. Each movement is recorded & uploaded easily from a mobile device, all from within our online portal. This process allows our coaching staff to carefully assess each pattern for compensations, restrictions and limitations, and to make purposeful & precise training decisions.
We often get asked why we make this a compulsory step of our on-boarding process, so here are our main reasons why;
FILTER FOR UNDERLYING INJURIES/PAIN
The most important reason we screen our athletes before assigning a program, is that we always want to determine if pain exists in any specific movement pattern, or if there is an underlying issue or injury that may be exacerbated with certain exercise variations or training methods. We use a simple “yes/no” pain questionnaire for each movement, in addition to four specific clearance tests that cover upper and lower extremities.
IDENTIFY MOVEMENT COMPENSATIONS & RESTRICTIONS
The second reason we screen our athletes is that we want to pinpoint any movement compensations that are likely to surface during resistance training and which may contribute to an increase in risk of injury or a decrease in performance. In order to accurately determine the cause of a compensation, often a number of steps are required. For example, an athlete who demonstrates a squat or lunge pattern which suggests dominance of the anterior musculature of the legs (quadriceps) over the posterior groups (glutes & hamstrings), may in fact simply have an ankle mobility restriction which is causing the suboptimal pattern. This is one of a few factors which may contribute. Throughout the screening process, potential causes of movement dysfunction can be more accurately confirmed or rejected until the root issues/s are identified.
IDENTIFY STRENGTH IMBALANCES
While it is common for athletes to have strength imbalances, for example between left & right, it is also a risk factor for injury and if left unchecked during program design may well be magnified with inappropriate exercise selection. Often the asymmetry will have occurred as a result of a previous injury, and the athlete will not have any awareness to the extent of the discrepancy. Identifying the muscle groups involved & addressing through specific single limb training is often the best method of improvement.
PREREQUISITES FOR ADVANCED MOVEMENTS
At AXSOM, we have prerequisites for all advanced strength & power movements. Most specifically for plyometrics, squatting & deadlifting patterns as these exercises are often where athletes place themselves at most risk. A simple example of this, using a deadlift, is that unless a toe-touch, a score of 2 on our straight leg raise test and competency score of 3 during the hip hinge pattern are shown in the movement assessment, a variation or an alternative exercise will be assigned.
PROGRAM WITH PRECISION & PURPOSE
For all of the reasons identified above, a movement assessment is essential to program optimally and safely for any athlete. This simple yet powerful practice can shape an entire training plan. Exercise variations, intensity, the choice of warm-up routine and the integrated correctives are all established from information obtained during the screening and on-boarding process.