Previous injury is the most powerful risk factor for future injury in sports. It has been suggested that motor control changes, like movement limitation and asymmetry, associated with injury and pain may be perpetuated as part of an individual’s movement strategy. Motor control of fundamental 1x body weight tasks can reliably and efficiently be measured in the field. The purpose of this study was to determine if the motor control of fundamental movement patterns and pattern asymmetry have a relationship with time-loss injury over the course of the pre-season in professional football. 238 American professional football players participated at American professional football facilities. In order to measure the motor control of 1x body weight fundamental movement patterns, Functional Movement Screen™ (FMS) scores were obtained prior to the start of training camp. The previously established cut-off score of ≤14 and the presence of any asymmetries on the FMS were examined using relative risk to determine if a relationship exists with time-loss injury. Time-loss musculoskeletal injury defined as any time-loss from practice or competition due to musculoskeletal injury was measured. Players who scored ≤14 showed a relative risk of 1.87 (CI95 1.20-2.96). Similarly, players with at least one asymmetry displayed a relative risk of 1.80 (CI95 1.11-2.74). The combination of scoring below the threshold and exhibiting a movement asymmetry was highly specific for injury 0.87 (CI95 0.84-0.90).
The results of this study indicate fundamental movement patterns and pattern asymmetry are identifiable risk factors for time-loss injury during the preseason in professional football players.