Personal Movement Test

One of the biggest problems out there are movements that are haphazardly completed. People try to just get the move completed without thinking about the full criteria that encompasses it. Ideal movements take focused effort, and reflection on areas that can be improved upon to help maximize the benefit and minimize the injury-risk. Below is a “Personal Movement Scoring Test” that can you can use to help examine each movement – identifying areas that may need improvement. It’s been broken down into 3 major criteria, proper completion, injury-prevention, and mind-body connection – all of which play important roles in a proper movement. There are plenty of movement screens out there, geared towards identifying movement limitations (see FMS). With this personal movement test however, you have a personal one that you can use for every movement you perform, making sure you’re maximizing each one.

Now it’s important to understand that the numbers in this test are subjective. It’s impossible to numerically breakdown specific movement criteria, but one key point should always be present. If there’s pain in the movement, then that’s an automatic fail. With this chart, even if you get everything else checked off, the presence of pain will only bring your score to a 55, a failing grade. Below is what the movement test looks like. What would you score on your best movements? What about your worst ones?


Personal Movement Test Criteria

A)     Proper completion NO YES
1)      Was there proper core engagement? 0 10
2)      Was breathing sufficient? 0 10
3)      Was joint positioning correct? 0 10
4)      Was the movement completed correctly? 0 5
a)      TOTAL POINTS (/35)
B)     Injury-Prevention
1)      Was the movement pain free? 0 45
2)      Was the mobility safely sufficient? 0 10
b)      TOTAL POINTS (/55)
C)      Mind-Body Connection
1)      Was tension felt in the correct place? 0 5
2)      Were you actively thinking of contracting the muscles at hand? 0 5
c)      TOTAL POINTS (/10)
Total points          /100


If looking at this chart, one common fault is when people only complete the “proper completion” criteria and call it a success. That’s great, but that’s a 35 –  AKA NOT passing the test. These are the people who for example, complete it, but have clear mobility restrictions, are feeling the tension in odd places, have some pain, and put no thought into actively contracting the needed muscles. There’s so much room for improvement! Not only to improve the potential weight you can lift, but to decrease your chance of injury.

This test can also be useful for people who are getting very high scores, but might have one or two things off, such as not utilizing the mind-body connection. That would be a score of a 90, which is an A, but still not a 100. Potential benefits are missing without the score of a 100. All movements you perform should be trained to the point where you can score a 100.

Lastly, the key factor for effectively scoring your movement is an understanding of the components in the test. Let’s go through what you should be asing yourself with this checklist using the squat as an example:


  • Was your core (abdominals, QL) tight throughout?
  • Did you inhale on the way down (eccentric component), and exhale on the way up (concentric component)?
  • Were your feet externally rotated about 30 degrees, knees tracking over 2ndand 3rd toe, spine neutral with an upright chest?
  • Did you squat to near 90 degrees without an excessive forward lean, or your heels coming up?


  • Did you feel any closing angle pains, or any specific joint pain?
  • Did you access the proper ranges with control and no compensation?


  • Were your glutes, quads, and posterior chain engaged?
  • Was the mind muscle connection present to feel those muscle actively contract?


These are the questions that you should know to be asking yourself. If you don’t know if you’re “properly engaging you core” or if your “mobility is safely sufficient”, then you should find someone who does, whether it be a trainer or manual therapist.



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Written by Dr. Brandon Buchla, DC, CSCS

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