Functional test and the empty can test.
What is a functional test?
And why are so important in the massage practice?
What is an empty can test and how does it work?
Firstly, functional tests are a test that helps massage therapists understand which muscle may give pain within a certain movement.
Secondly, the importance of a functional test is due to avoid misinterpretation of the muscle status and joint health conditions.
Furthermore, functional tests can be positive or negative.
So, for positive, we refer to a test that gave us the result we were suspicious of.
For example, if I do an empty can test, and the client during the test complains of pain in the shoulder acromion, the test is positive.
But if for instance, the client complains of pain in another area of the shoulder or arm, the test is negative.
Even so, as a therapist, we are aware that other area of the arm or shoulder needs to be looked after.
What is an “empty can test”?
An “empty can test” is a functional test used to validate the state of health of the supraspinatus tendon, at the high of the acromioclavicular joint.
In addition, to better understand how this specific test works, let’s look in too the anatomy of the Supraspinatus m.
Origin: Supraspinatus fossa of scapula
Insertion: Greater tubercle of the humerus
Action: Abduct the shoulder and stabilise the humeral head in the glenoid cavity.
As per result, the actions of the supraspinatus is to laterally elevate the arm and to hold in place the humeral head (Humerus is the bond of the upper arm).
Furthermore, the supraspinatus is one of the rotator cuff muscles.
The rotator cuff muscles are:
Supraspinatus, Teres minor, Infraspinatus and subscapularis.
But let’s get back to the empty can test. The empty can test can be done from seated or standing.
In addition, the test is conducted in 2 different stages.
Initially, we will ask the client to bring the arm in flexion at about 45° and in abduction at 45°.
The arm now is seating aside from the client’s body, on a diagonal line.
Now will ask the client to rotate the arm on itself, as if they are emptying a can.
As per the result, if at this stage of the functional tests, the client feels pain in the shoulder at the acromioclavicular joint, the test is positive.
If that’s not the case, then we can proceed with the resistant part.
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The resistant part consists of placing our hand on the client’s forearm and asking the client to meet the resistance, at 3 different stages.
For each stage, the resistance gets increased and it would last from 3 to 5 seconds.
If during any of the 3 stages the client feels pain, at the high of the acromioclavicular joint, the test is positive.
But why the client can feel pain during this type of functional test?
To answer this question, we have to look in too the acromioclavicular joint anatomy, but I will talk about this topic in the next blog post.