I think we all know that the range of motion of the ankle joint is important for normal function. I have made no secret of how useful I think the lunge test is in evaluating that ankle joint range of motion. While there is some discussion as to what is the normal value for the lunge test (I think its around 35-38 degrees) or even if the ankle joint range of motion must be done in subtalar joint neutral (I don’t think it doesn’t need to be), the lunge test is still proving useful and being widely used in clinical practice.

In the early days of running the Clinical Biomechanics Boot Camps we used to do a lot of practicals on the lunge test. Participants would practice on each other and I would go around the room to check how they were going. It was surprising just how many would be considered tight on the lunge test. I would then use my hand as a “heel raise” and get then to stand on that. Almost always they then had a normal range of motion using the lunge test. I soon come to realise that the “heel raise” of my hand was doing what the shoe did, in that all shoes typically have a higher stack height in the heel than the forefoot (the drop). People function and walk in shoes, so the lunge test (and probably as many clinical tests as possible) should be done in the shoes. When we started doing the lunge test barefoot and then in the shoes at the Clinical Biomechanics Boot Camps, almost everyone who was under what was considered normal, was within normal limits when the test was repeated in their footwear. This has implications of the nature of the intervention and if the calf muscles were really limited or not.

There is a whole lesson in the online version of the Clinical Biomechanics Boot Camp devoted to this.

Please consider doing the lunge test in the patients shoes.