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LTAD - a critique
Demands of the game
Profile of players
Functional screening
Resistance training
Speed and agility training
Integrated game conditioning

Range of motion testing

Test 4: Soleus test

Assessing ankle ROM helps indicate whether the player has normal ankle ROM.

Figure 5a. Half-kneeling dorsiflexion or soleus test, start position.

Figure 5b. Half-kneeling soleus test. Note in this image the knee touches the wall but the heel rises indicating a possible tightness about the soleus.

The normal ankle ROM is approximately 20 degrees of dorsiflexion when the knee is flexed at about 90 degrees. Flexing the knee to about 90 degrees makes the muscles of the calf (gastrocnemius and plantaris) slack over the knee joint. This slack then allows us to assess the soleus muscle ROM. The distance used to assess normal ROM is 10cm (4 inches) (Rose et al 2008).

Have the player in a half-kneeling position with the toes 10cm from the wall. It is important to ensure that the player aligns the front knee with the big toe so that the knee translates over the big toe during the test. Also ensure that the heel of the player remains on the ground throughout the test. Should the heel rise before the player touches the knee to the wall, then the test is positive for a soleus ROM limitation.

The evidence

Normal dorsiflexion ROM is essential for all weight bearing actions (Sahrmann 2002). A normal ROM will allow the player to express a powerful take off within a sprint cycle stride or within a jumping action. Where the ankle is limited in ROM compensations may appear further up along the kinetic chain. For example, this may be associated with an inward movement of the knee during the forward lunge test. Also another compensatory movement may be pronation of the foot. These compensatory effects for a reduced ankle dorsiflexion ROM may also result in greater stress and strain on the hamstrings during running where hypermobility about the knee is associated with reduced dorsiflexion (Sigward et al 2008). This hypermobility is further associated with ACL injury (Sigward et al 2008). Further other studies also find associations between restricted ROM in ankle dorsiflexion and lower extremity injury (Gabbe et al 2004, Kaufman et al 1999, Hughes 1985, Tabrizi et al 2000, Willems et al 2005).