The Thomas test
The Thomas test is used to assess if a player has any tightness in the hip flexor musculature. If a player has tightness in the hip flexor muscles then this may be limiting their function and could increase the risk of injury. The hip flexor muscles are one of the main muscle groups working during the game of rugby. To implement the Thomas test, the steps are as follows (Physical Therapy Haven, 2016);
- Have the player sit on the edge of the table
- They then lie back pulling one leg up towards their chest
- The coach makes sure the back is flat against the table
The coach is now able to assess the tightness of the hip flexor muscles by observing:
- If the leg that is being tested (the leg not pulled to the chest) does not have a tight Iliopsoas muscle (a hip flexor muscle) it will remain on the testing table
- If a tightness is present the leg will raise off the table
- Tightness is also indicated in the quad muscle if the knee cannot flex at least 90 degrees
The video shows how to perform and how to assess the Thomas test. If tightness is identified in the hip flexor muscles the following corrective stretches can be used in a training programme to help reduce tightness.
Thomas test with tight iliopsoas muscle and tight quad
Thomas test with tight quad
Lunge position quad stretch – player assumes a lunge position, contracts the glutes, and holds for 30-45 seconds, reach the arms up above the head.
Rear foot elevated quad stretch – player assumes a lunge position but with the rear foot elevated on a bench or step, contracts the glutes, and holds for 30-45 seconds each side.