Raising the standards of the calf-raise test: A systematic review

The calf-raise test is used by clinicians and researchers in sports medicine to assess properties of the calf muscle-tendon unit. The test generally involves repetitive concentric–eccentric muscle action of the plantar-flexors in unipedal stance and is quantified by the number of raises performed. Although the calf-raise test appears to have acceptable reliability and face validity, and is commonly used for medical assessment and rehabilitation of injuries, no universally acceptable test parameters have been published to date. A systematic review of the existing literature was conducted to investigate the consistency as well as universal acceptance of the evaluation purposes, test parameters, outcome measurements and psychometric properties of the calf-raise test. Forty-nine articles met the inclusion criteria and were quality assessed. Information on study characteristics and calf-raise test parameters, as well as quantitative data, were extracted; tabulated; and statistically analysed. The average quality score of the reviewed articles was 70.4 ± 12.2% (range 44–90%). Articles provided various test parameters; however, a consensus was not ascertained. Key testing parameters varied, were often unstated, and few studies reported reliability or validity values, including sensitivity and specificity. No definitive normative values could be established and the utility of the test in subjects with pathologies remained unclear.

Although adapted for use in several disciplines and traditionally recommended for clinical assessment, there is no uniform description of the calf-raise test in the literature. Further investigation is recommended to ensure consistent use and interpretation of the test by researchers and clinicians.

Kim Hébert-Losier, Richard J. Newsham-West, Anthony G. Schneiders and S. John Sullivan. Raising the standards of the calf-raise test: A systematic review. Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport, Volume 12, Issue 6, November 2009, Pages 594-602

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