Versus Arthritis Centre for Sport, Exercise and Osteoarthritis
University of Nottingham

Position Statement

from the International Movement Screening and Interventions Group (IMSIG)

Movement screening tools are used to: observe 1) physical performance and 2) movement quality; and 3) identify painful movement.  Poor movement is thought to indicate reduced physical capability and/or injury risk.  However, it is commonly accepted that injury is a consequence of complex interactions between multiple risk factors. These factors can include intrinsic (e.g., age, sex, previous injury) and extrinsic (e.g., training load, sporting rules, weather, playing surface, equipment) risk factors, and inciting events (e.g., performance, collision etc.). Therefore, it is important to understand that acceptable performance on movement screening alone, regardless of how good it is, is not sufficient to prevent injury.

The effectiveness of movement screening tools varies depending on the population and purpose for which screening is being used. For example, a review of the current scientific evidence reveals that movement screening tools lack specificity and/or sensitivity in certain populations for predicting injury when used in isolation. In order to provide a comprehensive injury risk profile, movement screening may add a useful component along with other tools to capture the multifactorial nature of injury.

The IMSIG encourages groups to conduct robust, high quality, large cohort studies that contribute to the body of evidence for movement screening.

Key knowledge gaps in the literature highlight the need for more high quality studies that:

  • Examine the association between movement screening tools and future injury that account for the multifactorial nature of injury, by ensuring adequate sample size and using appropriate biostatistical techniques.
  • Address the inconsistent and insufficient diagnostic accuracy of any cut-off score for any movement screening tool used for injury prediction in isolation.
  • Evaluate movement screening tools as well as injury prevention programmes targeting individuals at greater risk of injury.
  • Provide evidence that after individuals are identified as being ‘high risk of injury’, based on movement screening outcomes, that an intervention will reduce their future risk of injury. There is a need for intervention studies to determine if reducing the number of identified risk factors from movement screening tools, reduces the impact of injury (number and severity of injuries).
  • Extend the range of populations studied to date, which are mainly specific sports and occupational groups.
  • Address pain along with risk of injury. To date most studies that include movement screening tools have not quantified or described the pain associated with movement.