DIY Step #1: Figure Out What ‘It’ Actually Is

I recently attended a dinner party with a group of friends, one of who is eternally looking to improve his health and functionality. He stated that he had Kelly Starrett’s book, Becoming a Supple Leopard, and had opened it numerous times in an attempt to improve his mobility and fix what ailed him. The problem was, he had no idea where to start, or really how to use the book. Now, I too have that book, mainly because I like to know what my patients are reading and using as resources, this way I can steer them toward or away from things. My general review of Becoming a Supple Leopard is that it’s a great tool for everyone’s mobility toolbox, however, my friend made a great point in that without some guidance, it can become overwhelming and ultimately useless.

I like to consider myself pretty handy, and whenever something around the house (and by house I clearly mean apartment, I live in NYC, let’s be serious) or related to any object I use with fair regularity (that does not have some warranty I’m going to void) breaks down, I enjoy taking it upon myself to fix it. To that end, I have a number of DIY books ranging from home repair to bicycle maintenance. I very much liken these books to K-Star’s Becoming a Supple Leopard, with one difference; when I’m attempting to fix something in my apartment, I actually know what’s broken. A screw has come loose, a new locking mechanism is needed (I don’t mess around with plumbing and electric), or something that is fairly obvious to see or figure out with a little investigation. I think a major problem that some may encounter when attempting to use K-Star’s book as a reference for general mobility, is they don’t actually know what is wrong with their body, or what is causing their lack of mobility. If you have joint specific pain, then Becoming a Supple Leopard is pretty intuitive, and you can just flip to that section and use accordingly. If you are like my friend, full of mobility issues but no real specific pain, then you’ve got yourself a DIY book with no idea what the ‘It’ is, and where to start.

Image of the seven movements performed during the FMS.

Image of the seven movements performed during the FMS.

Enter: The Functional Movement Screen (FMS). I’ve discussed the FMS in previous posts, and I’m really not out to become its number one promoter or make it seem like the bees knees (yes, I really did just say that). My reasoning for bringing up the FMS is that in can offer a nice starting point for folks who’ve relegated Kelly’s book to the status of a mere coffee table coaster. The FMS is a series of seven movement tests designed to evaluate essential functional movement patterns and identify asymmetries and dysfunction that can lead to injury and decreased performance. Now, the FMS can be implemented by anyone, be it a personal trainer, physical therapist, or your friend who really likes to read stuff on the Internet. I give so much credit to all those individuals who are buying into the importance of proper fundamental movement patterns however I of course have to recommend that you have the FMS performed by a physical therapist. PTs are movement experts, and if you’re going to be undergoing a movement screening, they’re the ones you want administering the test.

I encourage you all to invest in your health and take stock in your mobility. Reading, watching videos, and even having someone film your own movement is a great start…but an FMS is even better. For those of you interested in learning more about the FMS, click here. If you have any interest in hanging out with me and having me put you through an FMS and providing you with an immeasurable amount of mind-blowing information, click here. Your body will thank you.