Trunk Extension Ability Test

This exercise will test your trunk extension ability. 

Lie prone with your hands on the the floor beneath shoulders. Attempt to push your upper body up while maintaining hip contact with floor (passing flexibility of lumbar spine is with elbows fully extended and hips on floor.) Use caution when performing this stretch: move slowly and stop immediately if there if any pain. 

Illustration of trunk extension test.

If you have lumbar instability, this increase your chances of developing low back pain. It is important that you have muscle endurance in the primary muscles groups responsible for stabilizing your lumbar spine. These muscles are: the trunk extensors (erector spinae), trunk flexors (rectus abdominis and abdominal oblique muscles) ad lateral flexors(quadrates lumborum).


Alternate ways to measure trunk extension 

To measure the isometric endurance of the trunk extensors, lie prone with the lower body secured (use straps) to the test bed at the ankles, knees, and hips and with the upper body extended over the edge of the bed. The bed should be approximately 25 cm (10 in ) above the surface of the floor. During the test, the client holds the upper arms across the chest, with the hand resting on the opposite shoulders. Instruct your client to assume and maintain a horizontal position above the floor for as long as possible. Use a stop watch to record in seconds the time from which the client assumes the horizontal position until the time at which the upper body contacts the floor. 

Below is a healthy time for male and female clients 

A good endurance time (sec) for men is 146 and 189 for women 

Lumbar stability test 

Trunk flexion 

To measure the isometric endurance of the trunk flexors, have your client sit on a test bench with a moveable back support set at a 60 degree angle. The client flexes the knees and hips to 90 degrees and folds the arms across the chest. Use toe straps to secure the client’s feet to the test bench. Instruct your client to maintain this position for as long as possible after you lower remove the back support. End the test when the client’s trunk falls below the 60 degree angle. Use a stopwatch to record in seconds the elapsed time. 

Lateral flexors 

To measure the isometric endurance of the lateral flexors, use the side bridge. Ask your client to assume a side-lying position on a mat with his legs extended. Place the top foot in front of the lower foot for support Instruct your client to lift his hips off the mat while supporting his body in a straight line on one elbow and the feet for as long as possible. He should hold the uninvolved arm across the chest. End the test when his hips return to the mat. Use a stopwatch to record in seconds the elapsed time. Administer this test for both the right and left sides of the body. 


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