Purpose: The aim was to introduce and evaluate the reliability and validity of an active hamstring flexibility test as a complement to common clinical examination when determining safe return to sport after hamstring injury.
Methods: Eleven healthy subjects (28 years) were tested on repeated occasions, and 11 athletes (21 years) with MRI-verified acute hamstring strain were tested when common clinical examination revealed no signs of remaining injury, i.e. there was no differences between the legs in palpation pain, manual strength tests, and passive straight leg raise. Flexibility, i.e. highest range of motion of three consecutive trials, was calculated from electrogoniometer data during active ballistic hip flexions and conventional passive slow hip-flexions in a supine position. A VAS-scale (0-100) was used to estimate experience of insecurity during active tests.
Results: No significant test-retest differences were observed. Intra-class correlation coefficients ranged 0.94-0.99 and coefficients of variation 1.52-4.53%. Active flexibility was greater (23%) than passive flexibility. In the athletes, the injured leg showed smaller (8%) active, but not passive, flexibility than the uninjured leg. Average insecurity estimation was 52 (range 28-98) for the injured and 0 for the uninjured leg, respectively.
Conclusion: The new test showed high reliability and construct validity; furthermore, it seems to be sensitive enough to detect differences both in active flexibility and in insecurity after acute hamstring strains at a point in time when the commonly used clinical examination fails to reveal injury signs. Thus, the test could be a complement to the common clinical examination before the final decision to return to sport is made.