Ely’s Test

Orthopedic Exam / Special Tests for Physical Therapy: HIP Tests / PELVIS Tests

Knee Pain Due to the Rectus Femoris Muscle:

Pain in the front and center of the knee, particularly when walking downstairs or downhill, or when wearing high heels. Difficulty extending the hip or fully flexing the knee. This common problem originates in the rectus femoris muscle in the front of the thigh. The rectus femoris (one of the quadriceps muscles) runs from the front edge of the pelvis down to the front of the shin, just below the knee.

When this muscle is tight and shortened by trigger points (areas where fibers are abnormally shortened) it tends to pull the pelvis forward, creating a “sway back,” an anterior (forward) rotation of the pelvis. It also forces the knees back into hyper-extension, causing strain on the cruciate ligaments of the knee as well as other muscles and connective tissues.

Special Test: Ely’s Test/ Duncan-Ely Test:


  •  To assess Rectus Femoris spasticity, tightness, contracture or Shortness.

Video Demo Instructions, Procedure, Positive Test:

Special Test: Elys Test/ Duncan-Ely Test:  Video Demo (Procedure below)


Special Test: Ely’s Test/ Duncan-Ely Test: PROCEDURE:

  • Patient  is prone
  • Therapist flexes patient’s affected knee
  • (Try to bring the heel to the glutes)
  • (Make sure their affected leg does not abduct)

Special Test: Elys Test/ Duncan-Ely Test: POSITIVE SIGN:

  • The pelvis on the affected side flexes as you try to get the heel touch their glute (affected side).   


  • Studies show Ely’s test has a sensitivity ranging from 56% to 59% and the specificity ranging from 64% to 85%.