Q: I went to a physiotherapist for back pain. I had to do three tests that involved sitting on the floor and getting up again, bending forward, and walking back and forth along the floor as fast as possible. What do these kinds of tests really show?
A: You are describing three standard tests used to assess physical function. Most of these tests are timed. Patients are asked to do the same task over and over as many times as possible in a limited amount of time.
These three tests include commonly performed tasks. When compared against other adults of the same gender and same age, the results can give the therapist an idea of what you can do. Studies have shown these particular tests give a reliable measure of physical function. The same tests are given after treatment. Before and after results are compared.
Saud M. Al-Obaidi, PhD, MCSP, PT, et al. The Relationship of Anticipated Pain and Fear Avoidance Beliefs to Outcome in Patients with Chronic Low Back Pain Who Are Not Receiving Workers' Compensation. In Spine. May 1, 2005. Vol. 30. No. 9. Pp. 1051-1057.