Introduction to Manual Muscle Testing for an Active Population

by Brent Brookbush DPT, PT, COMT, MS, PES, CES, CSCS, ACSM H/FS


  • Manual Muscle Testing - A test performed via the application of external resistance by the practitioner, in an attempt to stress a specific muscle(s) to determine whether that Muscle is sufficiently active/strong enough to meet the demands of daily activity (including sport).  A solid foundation of knowledge in musculoskeletal anatomy is a prerequisite, as testing positions, range of motion (ROM), resistance and identifying compensations will be dependent on the size, function and actions of the Muscle being tested, the muscles crossing proximal joint structures, and the structure of those joints (1, 2).
  • Active Population - A population of individuals who are functionally independent, and are most often active for recreation, exercise for reasons of health and fitness, or those individuals who play in sports either for recreation or profession.

Dr. Brent Brookbush tests the Gluteus Medius using a Manual Muscle Test modified for an active population

Why Manual Muscle Testing (MMT)?

  • In orthopedic rehabilitation, fitness and performance enhancement facilities, manual muscle testing (MMT) is most often used to refine exercise/intervention selection. Most often, reliable and relevant MMTs highlight weakness/inhibition, implying which activation and integration exercises may be appropriate. In essence, manual muscle testing will assist the human movement professional in building a more refined activation protocol or integrated/movement prep warm-up. MMT's may also highlight compensation or synergistic dominance implying a need for mobility techniques (3-6).