Assessing injury risk in male and female Royal Navy recruits: does the Functional Movement Screen provide understanding to inform effective injury mitigation?

J. Gibbs, C N T Power, D Böhning, M Warner, S Downie, A Allsopp, M Stokes, J L Fallowfield

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Introduction: Musculoskeletal injuries (MSKIs) are common during military and other occupational physical training programmes, and employers have a duty of care to mitigate this injury risk. MSKIs account for a high number of working days lost during initial military training, contribute to training attrition and impact training costs. Poorer movement quality may be associated with increased MSKI risk. Methods: The present study evaluated the relationship between the Functional Movement Screen (FMS) Score, as a measure of movement quality, and injury risk in Royal Navy (RN) recruits. A cohort of 957 recruits was assessed using the FMS prior to the 10-week phase I training programme. Injury occurrence, time, type and severity were recorded prospectively during the training period. Results: Total FMS Score was associated with injury risk (p≤0.001), where recruits scoring ≥13 were 2.6 times more likely to sustain an injury during training. However, FMS Score accounted for only 10% of the variance in injury risk (R2=0.1). Sex was the only additional variable to significantly affect the regression model. Mean FMS Scores for men (14.6±2.3) and women (14.4±2.4) were similar, but injury occurrence in women was 1.7 times greater than in men. Examining the influence of individual FMS movement tests on injury prediction did not improve the model, where those movements that significantly contributed to injury prediction only accounted for a small amount of the variance (R2=0.01). Conclusion: There was a weak relationship between FMS and injury risk in RN recruits. Evidence is provided that FMS score alone would not be appropriate to use as an injury prediction tool in military recruits.
Original languageEnglish
JournalBMJ Military Health
Publication statusPublished - 28 Nov 2023

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