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Shoulder Flexibility Test - What Is the Shoulder Flexibility Test

The shoulder flexibility test is a simple measurement shoulder joint mobility

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Updated May 23, 2014

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The shoulder flexibility test is a simple measurement of the flexibility and mobility of the shoulder joint. Adequate range of motion in the shoulder is important for injury prevention and athletic performance, especially for those who participate in swimming, or racket sports such as tennis, lacrosse, racquetball or any sports that require throwing or catching.

Because tightness in the upper back, neck and shoulders is often related to muscle pain and stiffness, this test may help determine a person's risk for future pain and injury. It has been used by exercise physiologists and physical therapist to assess baseline flexibility before starting an exercise or rehab program and is repeated after several weeks to determine progress. This position is also a good flexibility exercises and is often used by swimmers and tennis players to improve flexibility for their sport.

How to Perform the Shoulder Flexibility Test

  • To test your left shoulder flexibility, stand and raise your right arm straight up overhead.
  • Bend your right elbow and let your right palm rest on the back of your neck and slide it down your back and between your shoulder blades.
  • Reach behind you with your left hand so the back of your hand rests on the middle of your back.
  • Now slide your right hand down and your left hand up to try to touch the fingers of both hands.
  • Measure the minimum distance between the fingertips of the right and left hand. Record any overlap as well.
  • Switch your hands to perform the test on the opposite shoulder.

Shoulder Flexibility Test Results

Excellent = Fingers overlap
Good = Fingers touch
Average = Fingers are less than two inches apart
Poor = Fingers are more than two inches apart

Improve Your Flexibility

If you have less than adequate flexibility, you can increase your flexibility by stretching the major muscle groups about three times a week. For more ways to improve flexibility, see the following articles.

Sources:

American College of Sports Medicine. ACSM's Guidelines for Exercise Testing and Prescription, 7th Edition. Lippincott Williams and Wilkins: Philadelphia; 2006.

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