Breaking Out the Shoulder Mobility Screen

Recently I started a series on breaking out the screens on the FMS with my post on Breaking Out the Active Straight Leg Raise. If you haven’t seen that post you should check it out here.

With this post I’m going to break down something a little more complicated, shoulder mobility.  If there is one movement on the FMS that I get the most questions about the validity it would have to be the shoulder mobility screen. What most people don’t understand is that the shoulder mobility screen is NOT all that you need to know to determine if someone has proper shoulder function.  What is important to know is that when you get a red flag on the shoulder mobility screen you need to dig deeper and this post is how I do it. That being said, there are many ways to assess shoulder function, and honestly if you want to dig deep into shoulder function I would check out some stuff from Eric Cressey and Mike Reinold, but this is a great way to get you started.

First things first, you need to understand how to perform and score the FMS Shoulder Mobility Screen. If you need to learn that, check out the video below for all of the details.

Performing and Scoring the Shoulder Mobility Screen


If someone has a 1 on the FMS shoulder mobility screen I will break it out to try to get more info on why.  Here are the breakouts I typically use.


AC Impingement

Cervical Range of Motion

Supine Breathing

Crocodile Breathing

Arms Up Breathing

Static T Spine and Scapula Assessment

Do a Press

Thumbs to Walls

Seated T Spine Rotation

Grip Strength

Based upon what I find with these breakouts I will either refer them to a clinician or send them down one of the following three tracks.

1. Restorative Breathing Track

3 Month Breathing

Crocodile Breathing

Cat Cow with Breathing

Kneeling Hold with Breathing


2. Tissue and Mobility Track

Tissue Quality for Shoulder Mobility

Rib Roll

Side Lying Reach


Cat Cow with Breathing


3. Stability and Motor Control Track

Wall Slides

Shoulder Packing Shoulder Packing

Arm Bar

Get up to Elbow

Push Up Plank

Waiter Walk



Once the pattern is cleared it time to make it stick by incorporating the new found mobility and/or stability into some functional movement patterns.

Build the Pattern

That’s it! These assessments and corrective strategies have worked well for MOST of my clients that have had 1’s on the FMS Shoulder Mobility Screen, and I hope that this process can help you get some of your clients shoulders moving clean as well.

~ Steve Long