Hamstring Flexibility Part 1: Active Straight Leg Test

Do you have tight hamstrings? The active straight leg test is a simple test you can use to test for hamstring flexibility.  All you need for this test is a partner and a PVC pipe or dowel to check the position of the leg.  You can follow these easy steps below and watch our video for a demonstration on how to assess your mobility:

  • The individual performing the test lays down on their back
  • The partner taking the measurement takes note of the position of the knee, the bony land mark of the hip called the anterior superior iliac spine (ASIS), and then marks a point in the middle of these two points on the thigh. 
  • The individual performing the test then raises the opposite leg as high as possible, while keeping the leg with the marking down.  Hips and shoulders should also remain in contact with the ground the entire time. 
  • The partner then places the dowel in line with the medial malleolus (outside bony landmark of the ankle) and takes note where the bottom of the pole lands with respect to the bottom leg
  • To grade the level of flexibility, if the dowel lands below the knee it is considered poor, anything between the knee and the mid-thigh mark is average, and anything between the mid-thigh and ASIS is good, and anything beyond the ASIS is excellent.
  • Repeat for both legs and compare for any differences in flexibility


This test is also useful to determine compensatory patterns, especially in the low back and hips.  Since the opposite leg must stay on the ground, the individual must display good hip extension. Since the pelvis must remain in a neutral alignment and in contact with the ground, hip posture becomes important to avoid compensation.

The next post will cover some corrective strategies to improve hip mobility and hamstring flexibility


-Alex Edwards, CEP, CSCS 

Exercise Physiologist


Disclaimer:  Articles are based on real cases seen at Scottsdale Sports Medicine. The information on this site is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. All content, including text, graphics, images and information, contained on or available through this web site is for general information purposes only. Please consult your medical professional for individualized healthcare.


Cook, G. (2010). Movement functional movement systems: Screening, assessment, corrective strategies. Santa Cruz, CA: On Target Publications.