The sit and reach test an important functional measure of hip region flexibility including lower back and back of legs. Generally, lack of flexibility is associated with an increased risk of injury, and specifically lack of flexibility in this region is implicated in lumbar lordosis, forward pelvic tilt and lower back pain. This test forms part of the Navy Physical Readiness Test (PRT), performed by US Navy personnel every six months. See also other versions of the sit and reach test.
purpose: to assess the flexibility of the lower back and back of legs.
equipment required: sit and reach box (or alternatively a ruler can be used, and held between the feet)
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: After a proper warm-up and stretching, the subject is seated on the ground with the legs fully extended in front of them, feet eight inches apart, toes pointed upwards, and soles of the feet flush with the base of the sit and reach box. If the subject is unable to fully straighten their legs, an assistant may help to help press the legs down by applying pressure above or below the knees. The subject then reaches forward slowly, the fingertips of both hands remaining in contact with the slide at all times. Once the subject has reached their farthest extension point, the position should be held for a “two count”.
scoring: The participant may have three attempts, if desired, and the best of these is recorded. The scores are measured in quarter-inch increments, rounding up to the nearest quarter-inch.
variations: There are other versions of the sit and reach test.
disadvantages: Standard sit and reach tests such as this one use a set reference point which does not allow for variations in the length of arms and legs of the person being tested - people with long arms and/or short legs would get a better result, while those with short arms and/or long legs are at a disadvantage. The modified sit and reach test is designed to control for this.
comments: Shoes are optional, though removing them would be advantageous for maximizing the score. The push must be smooth and static, no bouncing or lunging is allowed.
The Test in Action
- This test forms part of the Navy Physical Readiness Test (PRT)
- General sit and reach test
- A simple sit and reach test you can do at home.
- PRT testing discussion and scoring and links to other PRT test descriptions.
- Sit and reach boxes — see what is available
- Make your own Sit and Reach testing box
- Other flexibility tests
- Hamstring flexibility exercises on this list of stretches
- Sit and Reach Test Videos and other Flexibility Test Videos
- Buy a sit and reach box
- Flexibility Store — items to measure flexibility.