The SFMA: What it is and how it can help

Regional interdependence is a key term to understanding movement quality, and thus, movement dysfunction. What is regional interdependence? It is the idea that every joint and muscle of the body is influenced by other joints and muscles of the body. The body should function in harmony and if one area of the body is out of sync, it can have a destructive effect on other areas of the body. In fact, areas of pain are not usually the source of dysfunction, just the “victims” 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. In order to make long-term changes and prevent those nagging injuries from persisting, the “bully” needs to be sought out, however finding it is not always easy. The SMFA, or the Selective Movement Functional Assessment, can help.

The SFMA is just one of many assessment tools that clinicians can use to evaluate a patient who is in pain. These can include physical therapists, athletic trainers, chiropractors, even medical doctors. It is to be used as a baseline evaluation and repeated as necessary. It does not delegate what type of treatment should be performed, only where to start looking. What makes the SFMA unique from many other systems is the fact that it uses movement to diagnose the source of pain, not just the area of where pain occurs. Instead of looking at only the body part or area of pain in question it looks at how the body moves as a whole, assesses the quality of that movement, and then looks for potential compensations (for example, a compensation is bending your knees to touch your toes because of hamstring tightness). Basically poor movement = compensation = pain.

The test is comprised of 9 movement patterns which are further broken down depending on if they are functional or dysfunctional, painful or non-painful. For example, if a person is asked to perform a squat and they report pain with the movement, the clinician can further break down the squat into individual movements that all must happen 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 problematic areas and reassess the movement. The SFMA follows the concept that certain joints must be mobile while others must be stable, and we treat these accordingly.

So who can benefit from the SFMA? The answer is anyone who is experiencing pain with movement. This could be a highschool athlete, weekend warrior, even a sedentary individual without much exercise training. At Advanced PMR, we are capable of performing this assessment and creating a comprehensive treatment plan focused on getting the individual moving properly and pain free as well as helping to prevent any future injuries that might have occurred due to the movement dysfunctions.

Posted in: Pain

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