What DWMA is NOT
Conversely, for everything DWMA is, it is NOT an attempt to teach non-medical coaches how to do a musculoskeletal assessment. Instead, DWMA is designed to teach coaches how to screen their athletes so they can:
- Better identify movement dysfunction before symptomatic, compensation injury occurs.
- Deduce a corrective exercise strategy to fix the athlete’s movement problem.
By the same logic that we don’t limit cardiac surgeons exclusively to perform CPR, the same likeness should apply to coaches and movement screens. However, as stated in previous topics in other lessons, if a coach can’t fix what they see in a movement screen, they should refer out to a specialist (i.e., athletic trainer, physical therapist).
Next, DWMA is not a test designed to measure an athlete’s physical capacity (i.e., strength, speed, power, explosiveness, fitness). DWMA’s primary purpose is to identify movement dysfunction. If left unchecked, the athlete’s physical capacity can exceed mobility and stability, resulting in compensation and likeness of injury.
Understand, it is possible for an athlete to score very well on tests like vertical jump, 5-10-5 shuttle, and 40-yard dash, which are physical performance measures but demonstrate poor movement quality on DWMA. The reason is that the neurological system is a great compensator, and athletes are great at compensating. Take, for instance, an athlete who rolls their ankle, one of two things occur:
- The athlete rolls the feet inward (pronation) to get into a lower athletic stance or
- The athlete keeps the shins more vertical and pushes the hips back further than usual, causing the back to round-forward.
In either circumstance, the athlete’s normal athletic stance and kinetic chain get disrupted and lesser power results from the compensation relative to movement dysfunction in the ankle.
KEY TERM: The neurological system is a sophisticated collection of nerves and specialized cells known as neurons that transmit signals for movement between different parts of the body. Essentially, it is the body’s electrical wiring.
In this way, it’s always good practice to screen for movement competency BEFORE you measure an athlete’s physical capacity. After all, no coaches are good enough to catch all movement dysfunction; hence, why should we employ a movement screen. For instance, an athlete could have inferior ankle mobility and still have a significant vertical leap. Therefore, if a coach assumes the vertical jump is a statement of health — not power — then the coach would assume the athlete’s risk for injury is lower when it’s not. The reality is that the athlete has considerable power with dysfunction, thus are at higher risk for injury.
The DWMA system efficiently and effectively screen movement competency in athletes individually or all at once as a group or team so the coach can increase the rate of assessment and execute a systematic course of action to fix it. However, avoid assessing when implementing the DWMA screen. Recognize, the word screening does not mean assessment. A screen is like a blood pressure test. When taking someone’s blood pressure, the pressure cuff doesn’t tell why they are hypertensive; it just confirms they are. So the goal of a DWMA screen should not be to diagnose anything because we should NOT be screening athletes who already have an issue; we should be assessing and improving their movement competency.