Manual Muscle Testing: Elbow Extension

Muscles Involved:

Triceps Brachii


Patient Positioning

Prone with test side shoulder in ~90 degrees abduction

Patient's test side forearm is hanging over side of plinth; upper arm supported on plinth to elbow.

For grades 0-2, the gravity minimal position is supported sitting with feet flat on the floor. The shoulder remains in the same position.

Therapist Position

At test side

Provide stabilization support just above elbow

To Test

  • Patient is to extend elbow to full available range
  • Grades 4 and 5 - The therapist will apply resistance over the dorsal forearm in the direction opposite to extension[1]
  • To satisfy grade 5 'normal muscle' performance criteria, the patient must have the ability to move through complete range of motion (active resistance testing) OR maintain an end point range (break testing) against maximum resistance.


  1. Hislop H, Avers D, Brown M. Daniels and Worthingham's muscle Testing-E-Book: Techniques of manual examination and performance testing. Elsevier Health Sciences; 2013 Sep 27.