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2 Credits

Muscle Length Testing

Explanation of muscle length tests, including the reliability, validity, and relevance of the Ely's Test, Ober's Test, Thomas Test, Gastros/Soleus Length Test, Lat Length Test, and the Hamstring Length Test. How to use muscle length tests, outcomes (what muscle length tests show), and recommended interventions.

Brent Brookbush

Brent Brookbush


Course Description: Muscle Length Testing

Why Assessment? All fitness, performance, and rehabilitation programs should start with an assessment. The goal of assessment is to refine exercise and technique recommendations, with the intent of improving client or patient outcomes. This course describes Muscle Length Testing (MLTs)

  • Muscle Length Testing (MLT) - "Muscle length testing involves elongating the muscle in the direction opposite of its action while assessing its resistance to passive lengthening (1)"

Why Muscle Length Tests? MLTs are used to identify changes in muscle extensibility that may be contributing to movement impairment and/or symptoms. Generally, positive muscle length tests indicate a loss of extensibility of one or more muscles. This may imply release, mobilization, and/or lengthening techniques are recommended. When used in conjunction with dynamic postural assessment, and a continuous interval measure (e.g. goniometry), these tests can aid in differentiating which muscles are affected by alterations in joint motion.

  • For example, If an Overhead Squat Assessment results in the identification of an anterior pelvic tilt (excessive lordosis) , and this is followed up with a measurement technique (continuous interval measure) like hip extension goniometry implying a measurable loss of hip extension range of motion (ROM), this still only provides enough information to implicate all hip flexors as potentially short/over-active. However, muscle length testing can be used to aid in identifying which hip flexors are exhibiting a loss of extensibility. A positive Ely's Test  implies rectus femoris over-activity, Ober's Test implies tensor fascia latae over-activity, and the Modified Thomas Test , implies iliacus/psoas over-activity. Identification of which muscles exhibit over-activity may aid in refining recommendations for specific techniques, and an integrated intervention plan (combination of optimal techniques).

The Brookbush Institute recommends that these assessments are added to the repertoire of all movement professionals (personal trainers, fitness instructors, physical therapists, massage therapists, chiropractors, occupational therapists, athletic trainers, etc.).

Muscle Length Tests Covered in this Course

This course includes a quick review of the research demonstrating the reliability, accuracy (sensitivity and specificity), and relevance of each test, a description of test results and interpretation of findings, and thorough descriptions of how to perform the techniques including videos with a breakdown of anatomical landmarks, the optimal position for the extremities, client and practitioner positioning, the use of tape measurer or goniometer, etc.

Printable PDF of the Movement Assessment Template:


The Difference Between a Good Assessment and a Bad Assessment

How to use Muscle Length Tests

Latissimus Dorsi Muscle Length Test (Lat Length Test)

Ely's Test (Rectus Femoris Flexibility Assessment)

Ober's Test (Tensor Fasciae Latae Flexibility Assessment)

Modified Thomas' Test (Psoas and Iliacus Flexibility Assessment)

Hamstring Length Test

Gastroc/Soleus Length Test


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1. Introduction

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