Flexibility Assessment

Modified Sit-and-Reach

This is a modified version of the traditional sit and reach test, designed to control for the variable lengths of people’s arms and legs, which is a limitation of the standard test. In this test, the zero mark is adjusted for each individual, based on their sitting reach level.

Sit and reach


  • The sit and reach test is an important functional measure of hip region flexibility, including the lower back and hamstring muscles (the back of the legs). Generally, lack of flexibility in this region is associated with an increased risk of injury, and specifically is implicated in lumbar lordosis, forward pelvic tilt and lower back pain.

Equipment required:

  • Modified sit and reach box. You need one designed specifically for the modified test (or alternatively a makeshift ruler and box may be used).

Description / procedure:

  • Remove your shoes, and sit on the floor with your back and head against a wall
  • Your legs should be out straight ahead and knees flat against the floor.
  • Have someone place the box flat against your feet.
  • While keeping your back and head against the wall, stretch your arms out towards the box.
  • Adjust the sliding ruler so that the zero mark is at your fingertips.
  • Place your hands side by side, and lean forward slowly as far as possible (your head and shoulders can come away from the wall) keeping the fingertips level with each other and the legs flat.
  • Do not jerk or bounce to reach further.
  • Hold the full reach position for two seconds, and record you score.


  • The score is recorded to the nearest centimeter as the distance reached.

Straight Leg Raise

The straight leg raise or lift is a hamstring muscle flexibility test.

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  • To assess the range of hip flexion of each leg with the knee fully extended.

Equipment required:

  • Goniometer with extended arms and spirit level (optional), and a firm table.


  • The subject lies supine on a flat bench.
  • The straight leg is actively raised as far as possible.
  • At the point of maximum stretch, measure the angle of displacement of the leg from the horizontal.
  • The fulcrum of the goniometer is held over the greater trochanter of the leg being tested, while the moving arm is aligned with the mid-line of the femur, using the lateral epicondyle as a reference point.
  • Two separate trials are performed with the mean of the two recorded as the hip flexion score.
  • The procedure is repeated for both legs.


  • The angle of displacement from the horizontal is measured by the goniometer. The measurement unit is degrees.


  • The opposite leg must be held firmly down by another tester or by using a strap, so that there is no flexion at the hip joint.
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Goniometer readings of active range of motion

As with the straight leg raise, the movements at all of the other joints can be measured by following the same procedure. These can then be compared to anatomical norms, or bilaterally (left and right). The most important thing to remember is that the joint angles are measured as the angles the long bones create, with the joint as the centre of rotation.

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