Selective Functional Movement Assessment – Why I love it… By Ryan Craig, Physiotherapist


‘Never stop learning’ is a phrase we use a lot at Central Physio and Health. Dedicated Physiotherapists spend a lot of time learning. When I was a new grad I used the commute too and from work to listen to Physio podcasts. This was a time of exploring what exists in the Physio world aside from the basics we were taught at university.

I used to jump on the train when it was still dark! (like 5:30am) and cold (before I was on the Gold Coast, in Surfers Paradise). I would try to summarise a podcast discussing assessment and treatment of pain at a specific region of the body, spoken by various specialists. Some experts are great at teaching, others had an ability to talk for 40 minutes about a topic and leave you with more questions than answers.

Then there were some who just seemed to think differently, like Gray Cook. I was recommended to listen to his 12 hour lecture compendium (best $15 dollars I ever spent on education – download at his website https://www.audible.com.au/pd/The-Gray-Cook-Lecture-Compendium-Audiobook/B01JN8PR0W)

Why was it great?

– because it was different. But different meant it was challenging. In the same way changing your lifestyle and habits as a Physiotherapy client can be challenging. This lecture series changed the course of my Physiotherapy career.

How was it different?

Gray Cook is the creator of the ‘Selective Functional Movement System’. A  bunch of movement tests used to identify poor quality movement which might be contributing to pain and injury. This is different because from the outset the focus is on movement patterns rather than body parts. The theory is, fixing the pattern (moving well) takes care of the parts, while focusing only on the parts means not always finding the reason the part was injured in the first place.

So a bunch of movement tests that can tell us why* someone has pain, not just what* is paining, sounds pretty good right? Clients often say to me things like “I feel like my knee pain is caused by an old hip problem I had”, “where is this pain coming from?”, “I’ve had the painful spot treated but it didn’t change anything”. Have you ever had questions like these? People often link that everything is connected in the body.

The SFMA helps to answer these questions, just because it looks at the big picture – the way someone moves. We use the findings to direct the rest of the assessment and find the cause of your problem.

We have three certified SFMA practitioners at Central Physio and Health. We offer specific SFMA consults which are helpful for solving pain, and also just improving performance where you are pain free. We also use parts of this system in most of our Physio consults.

To summarise, identifying the painful part usually gives us information about what not to do, identifying unideal movement tells us what to work on and how to treat pain and injury. The values and ethos of the SFMA fits perfectly with our values at Central Physio and Health. We aim to empower and educate you. We want you to take your health into your own hands to stay pain free long term. The way you move your body has a bigger effect on pain and injury than you think it does, and a Physiotherapy assessment is the first step toward mastering your movement.


Ryan Craig