The slump test: the effects of head and lower extremity position on knee extension

J Orthop Sports Phys Ther. 1997 Dec;26(6):310-7. doi: 10.2519/jospt.1997.26.6.310.


Maitland's slump test is a widely used neural tissue tension test. During slump testing, terminal knee extension is assessed for signs of restricted range of motion (ROM), which may indicate impaired neural tissue mobility. A number of refinements that modify hip and ankle position has been added to the basic slump test procedure, but no research to date has measured the effects of ankle and hip position on knee extension ROM during testing. The purpose of this study was to examine the effect of neural tension-producing movements of the cervical spine and lower extremity on knee extension ROM during the slump test. Thirty-four males with no significant history of low back pain were tested in the slump position with the cervical spine flexed and extended in each of three lower extremity test positions: neutral hip rotation with the ankle in a position of subject comfort (neutral), neutral hip rotation with ankle dorsiflexion (ankle dorsiflexion), and medial hip rotation with ankle dorsiflexion. Results showed significant decreases in active knee extension ROM (F1,198 = 29.53, p < 0.0001) in the cervical flexion compared with the cervical extension conditions. Subjects also exhibited significant decreases in active knee extension ROM (F2,198 = 56.76, p < 0.0001) as they were progressed from neutral to the ankle dorsiflexion to the medial hip rotation with ankle dorsiflexion positions of the lower extremity. The results of our study indicate that limitations in terminal knee extension ROM may be considered a normal response to the inclusion of cervical flexion, ankle dorsiflexion, or medial hip rotation in the slump test in young, healthy, adult males. In addition, the presence of a cumulative effect on knee extension ROM with the simultaneous application of these motions is noted. These findings may assist clinicians when assessing knee extension ROM during slump testing.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Ankle Joint / anatomy & histology
  • Ankle Joint / physiology
  • Cervical Vertebrae / anatomy & histology*
  • Head / anatomy & histology*
  • Hip Joint / anatomy & histology
  • Hip Joint / physiology
  • Humans
  • Knee Joint / physiology*
  • Leg / anatomy & histology*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Muscle Contraction / physiology
  • Neck Muscles / physiology
  • Peripheral Nerves / physiology
  • Posture / physiology*
  • Range of Motion, Articular / physiology*
  • Rotation
  • Single-Blind Method
  • Stress, Mechanical
  • Supine Position