Movement Control Tests

3rd May 2013

Sarah Mottram recently presented The Olive Sands Memorial Lecture at the PhysioFirst conference. Her lecture 'Solutions for Managing Movement - targeting the impairment' looked at Movement Control Tests and how they identify the site and direction of uncontrolled movement.


Movement control tests


A movement control test involves asking a person to cognitively control movement at a specific site and in a specific direction, while moving elsewhere. The aim is to evaluate the person’s ability or inability to control movement cognitively to a benchmark standard. It must be stressed that these tests are not of functional movement but aim to identify movement impairments such as low threshold movement faults, i.e. alignment, co-ordination and non-fatiguing function, and high threshold movement faults, i.e. strength, speed and fast-fatiguing function (Comerford & Mottram 2012).

Movement control tests have been described for most regions of the body and include many of those illustrated in the text Kinetic Control: The Management of Uncontrolled Movement (Comerford & Mottram 2012).

Examples include:

Test for uncontrolled scapular downward rotation


The scapular is placed in the optimum orientation and the person is asked to hold this position as they flex the glenohumeral joint to 90 degrees. Uncontrolled movement is observed if the scapular moves into downward rotation.

Test for uncontrolled hip flexion: 



he low back, pelvis, hip and lower limb are placed in the optimum alignment and the person is asked to stand on one leg and perform a small knee bend without hip flexion (as if sliding down a wall). If the hip flexes uncontrolled hip flexion is noted.


Test for uncontrolled lumbar flexion: 



Start in neutral lumbopelvic positon, the person is asked to keep the low back in neutral and move forward at the hips to 50 degrees.Low back flexion is noted.

There is growing support for the use, and reliability, of movement control tests (Comerford & Mottram 2012, Enoch 2011, Luomajoki et al., 2007 / 2008, Monnier et al., 2012, Mottram et al., 2009, Morrissey et al., 2008, Roussel et al., 2009).

 Next week - are they worth doing?

Keywords: Movement Control Impairments