Purpose: Firefighters require a high level of functional fitness to operate safely, effectively, and efficiently. The authors studied the distribution of functional movement screen (FMS) scores in firefighters and examined whether an 8-week corrective exercise program based on National Academy of Sport Medicine guidelines could improve them. Methods: All 524 active firefighters of a city completed the baseline FMS testing. Those who obtained a score of 14 or less, a sign of movement dysfunction, and volunteered to continue their participation were randomly assigned to either an experimental (n = 51) or a control (n = 45) group. Both groups participated in an 8-week training program. The control group used their own usual training routine, but the experimental group used the specific protocol designed for the study. Results: The FMS scores of 43% of the population were less than 14. Repeated-measures analysis of variance revealed a significant interaction between FMS scores of the groups (F1,94 =165, P < .001). The experimental group showed a 69% improvement from pretest (10.6) to posttest (17.8), whereas the control group showed only a 3% improvement from pretest (11.8) to posttest (12.1). Conclusions: Preceding studies have shown that FMS scores less than 14 increase the injury risk. The findings showed that using our proposed training protocol, low FMS scores could be improved to 14 and higher. Considering the high injury rate of firefighters, the authors suggest administering FMS periodically and to use a training protocol such as ours, to increase functional fitness and reduce injury risk.
The authors are with the Department of Sport Injuries and Corrective Exercises, Faculty of Exercise Sciences, University of Isfahan, Isfahan, Iran.