A New Look at Movement

More than three years of work has finally made it into print, and as I look back on the project, I still cannot believe the journey. Although the methods we use in Functional Movement Systems have been known for a while, our understanding and explanations have improved greatly over that time. The book, Movement: Functional Movement Systems, brings all of that work together into one text, a culmination of our efforts to date.

Gray Cook lecturing in Scotland

Explaining the complexities of human movement dysfunction and correction is much more involved than reciting terms of biomechanics and kinesiology. We specifically wanted the reader to have a command of the key concepts of movement learning alongside fundamental principles that separate the work of the elite exercise and rehabilitation professionals from the average.

Today’s professionals need to understand the risks and implications of dysfunctional movement patterns. They must also understand the preferences of the human brain regarding movement-pattern learning and relearning. Ultimately, each professional will arrive at a crossroad concerning the correction of faulty movement patterns. This book will force an answer at that pivotal point.

Do we correct faulty movement patterns by simply repeating correct movements, or do we look deeper into movement perception and behavior to find the weakest link.

Although the second choice seems more complex and difficult, it parallels natural growth, development and movement acquisition. Used systematically, the second system is more efficient and effective.

Even though the functional movement screen is more than 10 years old and some of my assessment and corrective ideas are even older, the information in Movement is my first comprehensive stab at the movement big picture as it relates to exercise and rehabilitation. When I say comprehensive stab, I mean this book identifies fundamental errors in our exercise logic, presents systematic methods to improve problem-solving, and offers an in-depth perspective into corrective movement strategies.

The book starts by presenting a case for why we need to screen and assess mass movements and how as a population our fundamental movement patterns are eroding. We may think we have a cultural fitness problem, but we actually have serious movement problems that can compromise fitness strategies and increase risk of injury in active individuals. Exercise and rehabilitation professionals value standardized evaluations of movement quantities, but as a group we have failed to establish a qualitative standard for movement. We all have opinions of movement quality, but without a standard operating procedure, we will not be able to constructively discuss or research movement-pattern quality at a deeper level.

New research is demonstrating that if we first establish a qualitative standard, we might provide greater effectiveness with exercise program design as we reduce injury risk. The first three chapters of the book build the case for movement-pattern screening and assessment that supports a standard procedure for a movement quality baseline.

In the next section of the book, both screening and assessment systems are presented in the most thorough detail to date. This is the methods section of the book in which I specifically took time to address the most misunderstood components and frequently asked questions regarding movement screening and assessment.

The final segment of the text involves movement correction, and is presented in a surprisingly different format. My own personal studies and professional development pushed me further into how the human brain likes to receive and dispense information. The new perspectives I’ve learned and applied helped broaden my understanding and became the theme for the corrective section.

It is common for books regarding exercise and rehabilitation to have a primary focus on the anatomy and to disregard the brain and central nervous system. Ultimately, the brain controls most of our perceptions and behaviors regarding movement patterns as it works through the anatomical networks. Therefore, we must consider the learning systems that appreciate both perception and behavior alongside measurements of anatomical structure and physical capacity.

In Movement, we present the most current references and research to support screening and assessment, but we also realize new information will continue to emerge. To better serve our readers, we created the website movementbook.com to update information and provide expert commentary specific to each chapter.

From beginning to end, the book is dedicated to establishing time-honored and tested principles of human movement-pattern behavior. Fundamental principles are the foundation of ancient wisdom as well as modern expertise— they are timeless. Principles can often be overlooked in modern fitness and athletics, and even in rehabilitation. Without fundamental principles, we migrate to popular methods and flashy programs and it is our nature to defend these. In reality, popular trends, methods and programs should be principle-based and justify their existence.

We are the professionals and our programs and methods are simply tools to maintain a standard level of quality. We should strive to agree on standards even though we may differ on the way we address them. A systematic approach can guide us and improve our consistency without restricting individual creativity. It is our hope that movement can be our common ground as we serve our clients, athletes and patients.


  1. Burt Ross says:


    I am 64 years old, considered to be in super shape. I am about to retire from teaching and I’m looking for a new career. Since I am passionate about fitness and health, I am interested in becoming a trainer. My massage therapist has attended several sessions/seminars with Gray and recommended the “FMS” certification as something that I could and should pursue.

    What I’d like to know is your two cents worth, would this certification alone help qualify me as a trainer? Any direction or opinions would be welcome. I am particularly interested in providing services to people like me, middle age and older, active, fit individuals and the same population, wishing to become fit and healthy.



  2. Burt,

    Technically the FMS Certification does not recognize you as a trainer, you will have to go through a different organization such as ACE or NSCA. However, many job descriptions in the fitness industry are now beginning to have the FMS Certification as a pre requisite when applying for a job.

    I hope this helps.

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