The Shoulder Stretch is a simple flexibility test to determine if the hands can be brought together behind the back. This test is part of the FitnessGram Program, as an alternative to the Backsaver Sit and Reach Test. It is also part of the Brockport Assessment. See also the Back Scratch Test and the Shoulder Flexibility tests, effectively the same tests which additionally measure the distance between the hands.
purpose: This test measures upper arm and shoulder girdle flexibility
equipment required: none
pre-test: Explain the test procedures to the subject. Perform screening of health risks and obtain informed consent. Prepare forms and record basic information such as age, height, body weight, gender, test conditions. Perform an appropriate warm-up. See more details of pre-test procedures.
procedure: This test is done in the standing position. Place one hand behind the head and back over the shoulder, and reach as far as possible down the middle of your back, your palm touching your body and the fingers directed downwards. Place the other arm behind your back, palm facing outward and fingers upward and reach up as far as possible attempting to touch the fingers of each hand. The tester may be required to direct the subject so that the fingers are aligned. See if the subject can touch their fingers. Test the left and right shoulders.
scoring: The score is recorded as either a YES or NO, for each side.
advantages: no equipment required.
disadvantages: with the simple yes and no result, there is no discrimination of the level of flexibility. If you require a test in which you can monitor changes in flexibility for this movement, try the back scratch test.
other comments: Do not conduct the test if the subject experiences pain. A variation is called the zipper test.
The Test in Action
- Shoulder Reach Flexibility Test — can the hands can be brought within 5cm behind the back.
- Back Scratch — how close can the hands can be brought together behind the back.
- Apley's Shoulder Scratch Test — shoulder movement measured by reaching behind to touch the opposite scapula.
- Other flexibility tests.
- About the FitnessGram program
- Flexibility Test Videos
- Details of the Backsaver Sit and Reach Test.
- About the Brockport test battery