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Few things are more frustrating for athletes than being sidelined by an injury. As athletes, or even weekend warriors, we are a stubborn bunch. It takes more than a little pain to keep us away from our favorite sports.

While there is no way to injury-proof our bodies, doctors and physical therapists can use a screening tool called a functional movement screen to gain insight into what parts of our bodies are weak and might be more likely to sustain injury. A functional movement screen utilizes a set of movements that can be assessed for lack of flexibility, lack of strength and left/right unevenness. There are seven exercises in the screen. Each one tests your ability to perform everyday activities.

Dr. Tyler Jack, DC, FMT, FAKTR of Southeast Sports and Rehabilitation in Spartanburg performs this screening on patients and describes it as a “trouble detection device.”

“We look at cues to find weak areas in your body,” he said.

Jack notes that weakness in one area of the body can often cause pain in a completely different area.

“I have people who will say, my lower back has hurt for five years and you messed with my ankle for five minutes and my back feels better,” he said.

According to Jack, the tests are especially helpful for one-sport athletes.

“A lot of people go out and do a sport — cycling or running for instance — but never supplement with anything else,” he said. “This assessment can give cues to potential problems and we can prescribe corrective exercises to correct issues.”

You don't have to be a professional athlete to benefit, he added.

“I have a lot of people who come in and say, ‘I do 5Ks or ride on the road, but I’m not an athlete.’ If you are doing athletic things, you are an athlete,” he said.

Whether you compete in races, or just compete with yourself, you are probably looking to perform better.

“If weaknesses uncovered but the movement screen can be identified and addressed, decreased injury and increased performance should follow naturally,” he said.

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