Stretch Test and Corrective Exercises

By RealJock Staff

Diakadi Body's Billy Polson has developed a stretch test, designed to help you assess where you're tight, and to give you a program for addressing those issues. There are several schools of thought on whether someone should stretch before a workout. The goal of stretching is usually to inhibit muscle flexion/tension, so you might wonder why you would want to inhibit your muscles right before a workout, when you want them to be at their strongest and most ready. In Polson's program, you only want to stretch muscles before a workout if these muscles are causing an imbalance in your body causing faulty movement patterns, joint tension and often leading to injury.

This stretch test is designed to help you see which, if any, of your muscles are overly tight. With each stretch is listed the desirable range of motion that should be achieved in order for your body and joints to move properly, allowing all muscles to work as intended. If you have any muscles that are tighter than required to properly function, then these tight muscles should be stretched before any movement (a minimum of five days per week) in order to realign joints properly before proceeding with any type of exercise.

Quad/Hip Flexor Test
Start by testing the left quad and hip flexor. Place the left knee on the floor as close as you can to the wall, placing your right foot in front foot flat on floor with right knee at right angle. Sit up completely straight with your body and chest, not bent at hips. If your knee is too close to the wall to sit up straight, then scoot your knee further from the wall. Some clients may be so tight in their left quad and hip flexor that they cannot have their right toe on the wall at all. Measure the distance of your left knee from the wall. Repeat the same test for the right quad and hip flexor with right toes on the wall and left leg in the front position. Record pass/fail for each leg.
Test: To see how close your back knee is to the wall.
Pass: Knee is less than five inches from the wall, and you can sit up completely straight.
Fail: If back knee has to be more than five inches from the wall in order for you to sit up straight in the kneeling position.
Quad/Hip Flexor Corrective Stretch
Take the same position as above, in a kneeling position with one toe on the wall. For the stretch, first squeeze your butt cheeks, then rotate your body towards your front leg and extend your rear arm up overhead as you twist and look up toward the ceiling. Hold for 10 seconds. Do three sets of this on each leg that had "fail". Also, if either leg failed this test, lay back over a stability ball and hang as dead-weight for one minute.
Hamstring Test
Lie on your back and one at a time lift your legs straight up using a stretch strap (or yoga strap, or belt or towel). Record pass/fail for each leg on this test.
Test: To see how high you can lift each inividual leg before having to bend the knee or the opposite leg starts to lift off floor.
Pass: If you can lift your leg up to or past 90 degrees from the floor.
Fail: If you cannot lift your leg to 90 degrees from the floor.
Hamstring Corrective Stretch
Take the same position as above on the floor on your back with stretch strap around the sole of your shoe. Start by pulling your leg up as high as you can pull it while keeping your leg straight and opposite leg on the floor. Hold this for 5 seconds. Then slightly bend the knee and raise your stretch leg a bit higher. Now holding the leg at this height, try to straighten the knee out and hold it straight for 5 seconds in this higher position. Then soften/bend the knee again and pull the leg a little higher (while keeping hip down and opposite leg flat), then again holding this higher position, completely straighten the knee against the pressure of the strap. Repeat this act of ratcheting up your leg for a series of 5 times on each leg needing the corrective stretch.
Pigeon Stretch Test
We'll start by testing your left hip flexibility. Start on all fours and slowly tuck your left knee forward and extend your right leg back. Then pull your left shin under your right leg so that your shin is perpendicular to your body. Then fully extend your right leg straight back as far as you can and come down to your elbows and eventually to your arms extended front. Test for both sides. Record pass/fail for each hip inividually.
Test: To see if you can lie fully down across your front shin and keep your front leg's hip on the floor with your rear leg extended straight back. Test for both sides..
Pass: You can lie fully out and keep your shin perpendicular to your body while keeping front hip on ground and back leg extended back.
Fail: You cannot keep front shin perpendicular, or front hip stays off of ground or back leg cannot stay straight.
Pigeon Corrective Stretch
Sit in the same pigeon position listed above and hold for 30 seconds. Do 2 sets on each leg that had a “fail”.
Groin Test
Start on all fours, then extend your legs out wide with your insteps on the ground and feet at right angles to your shins.
Test: Drop down to your elbows and keeping your back flat, test how far you can sit back with your legs as wide as they will go.
Pass: You can extend your knees out two to three times the width of your hips and still sit your hips back towards your heels with your elbows on the ground and lower back arched, not rounded.
Fail: Your inner thighs and groin are too tight to be able to open your knees much past the width of your hips when you sit back with your hips. Usually your butt will also tuck and lower back round when you try to sit back.
Groin Corrective Stretch
If you failed the initial groin stretch, get into same position as above, with elbows on ground, legs as wide as possible and back flat. Sit back as far as you can while holding your back flat and hold for 10 seconds. Then float back forward and widen your legs and sit back again for 10 seconds with back staying flat. Float back forward to rest position and repeat with wider legs one last time with sit back and hold with flat back for 10 seconds.
Calf Test
Standing on a stair/step, drop each heel inidvidually off the back of the step. Record “pass” or “fail” for each foot individually..
Test: How far you can drop each inividual heel off.
Pass: Heel drops low enough that the sole of your shoe is at a 45-degree angle.
Fail: Heel does not drop sole of foot to a 45-degree angle.
Calf Corrective Stretch
Hold the same stretch as above for 30 seconds on each calf that failed the test.
IT Band Test
You will need a foam roller for this test and stretch. Lie on your side on top of the foam roller, with the roller at your hip and perpendicular to your body, and your legs stacked one on top of the other. Slowly roll the foam roller down your body, along the outside of the leg. Repeat this down the entire side of each leg. Record “pass” or “fail” for each leg.
Test: To see if you can roll down the entire side without hitting a muscle knot or tight, painful area.
Pass: You roll all the way from hip to knee without running into what will feel like a horribly painful speed bump.
Fail: You run into a horribly painful knot, or “speed bump”.
IT Band Corrective Stretch
Take the same position as above, with legs stacked on the roller, and roll down the outside of the leg, as above. Now, stop each time you hit a knot or adhesion and stay still for a count of 20.
Chest/Lats/Spine Wall Test
Stand with your heels, butt, shoulder blades, and lower skull against the wall. Put your arms out to your sides with the backs of your hands on the wall by your head and your armpits and elbows bent at right angles. Slowly raise your arms up straight overhead.
Test: To see if you can raise the arms all the way up overhead without any areas of your body coming off the wall (including fore-arms, elbows, butt, shoulder blades, head).
Pass: If you can bring hands all the way up without anything coming off wall.
Fail: If any of the above-listed body parts must come off wall in order to bring your hands overhead.
Chest/Lats/Spine Corrective Stretch
There are two stretches if you failed this test. For your chest: Stand with arm extended on wall and twist to open chest. Hold for 30 seconds. Repeat for each side. If you find one side much tighter than other, then do stretch two times on tighter side. To stretch your pectorialis minor, do this same stretch, but with your elbow bent and hand behind your head. For your lats: Stand in front of a barbell in the rack at chest height. Grab on bar with hands shoulder width and drop your chest and head through center. Hold stretch for 30 seconds.
Forward Head Posture Wall Test
Stand with your heels, butt and shoulder blades against the wall. Let your hands hang at your sides with palms facing your body. Stand naturally.
Test: Is the lower base of your skull naturally sitting on the wall??
Pass: Yes, it was naturally siting on the wall.
Fail: No, it was not on the wall until I moved my head back to the wall.
Forward Head Posture Corrective Stretch
In the same position as the test, push the base of your skull into the wall and hold for 10 seconds, 10 times.
Note: A reference for this program is Paul Chek's How to Eat, Move and Be Healthy, San Diego, 2004.

About Billy Polson: Billy Polson is co-founder of the award-winning Diakadi Body personal training gym and creators of RealJock's 12-week Workout Programs. Billy is a certified Exercise Coach through the Paul Chek Institute as well as a Certified Personal Trainer through The National Academy of Sports Medicine. Have burning questions about your fitness that you want Billy and Diakadi co-founder Mike Clausen to answer? Send an email to