Pain. It can be a difficult thing to live with. It can depress, discourage, and even create fear. Even more complicated, the area experiencing the pain may not be the area causing the pain. This happens more often than you might think. To better understand why the source of the pain is usually somewhere other than the actual site of pain, we need to explore the concept of “regional interdependence.” Regional interdependence is the idea that every joint and muscle is influenced by other joints and muscles. The body should function in harmony—if one area of the body is out of sync, it can have a destructive effect on other areas. Let’s think about it like this: the area where you’re experiencing pain is just the “victim” of the “bully.” This “bully” is somewhere up or down the chain in relation to the pain and needs to be treated in order to correct the movement dysfunction that is causing the pain. Otherwise, only the symptoms will be treated and the overriding problem causing this pain won’t be addressed, leading to frequent flare ups. If you’ve experienced medical treatment in the past and gotten temporarily relief only for the pain to return not soon after, this is most likely the reason why. In order to make long-term changes and prevent those nagging injuries from persisting, we need to find the “bully.” The SFMA—or the Selective Functional Movement Assessment—can help.

The SFMA is a comprehensive assessment tool that clinicians can use to evaluate a patient who is in pain. It doesn’t dictate what type of treatment should be performed, only where to start looking. Rather than only examining the body part that’s experiencing pain, the SFMA looks at how the body moves as a whole, assessing the quality of that movement and looking for potential compensations. (For example, if hamstring tightness causes you to bend your knees in order to touch your toes, that’s a compensation.) The SFMA follows the concept that certain joints must be mobile while others must be stable, and we treat these accordingly. To put it simply: Poor movement capabilities –> Compensation –> Pain.

The test is comprised of nine movement patterns which are broken down even further depending on whether they’re functional or dysfunctional, painful or non-painful. For example, if the patient is asked to perform a squat and the therapist observes an atypical squat pattern, then the clinician can further break down the squat into individual movements that must all happen in order for the person to squat successfully. This might include looking into hip, knee, or ankle mobility/stability, just to name a few. Based off the findings, the clinician can treat the problem areas and reassess the movement. Once these nine movement patterns are normalized and corrected, the body should be restored to normal function. With any compensations now resolved, the strain placed on the body that has led to the pain has also been eliminated.

So who can benefit from the SFMA? Put simply, anyone who is experiencing pain with movement. This could be a high school athlete, weekend warrior, or even a sedentary individual without much exercise training. To be evaluated and start the process of eliminating your pain through a program aimed at the source of the pain, contact Excel today!