Evaluating Flexibility

Trunk Extension Thumbnail

Evaluating Flexibility

Evaluating flexibility is important. Flexibility is the ability to use a muscle throughout its maximum range of motion. The loss of the ability to bend, twist, and stretch is often a result of muscle disuse. Disuse can come from long periods of sitting or standing.

Sedentary living habits can lead to shortened muscles and tendons. This can cause lower back pain and imbalance in the strength of opposing muscles. The shortening of the hamstrings (back of the thighs) is a very common disorder. Long periods of sitting or standing lead to poor muscle and tendon adjustments and a loss of flexibility in these muscles. This loss of flexibility limits your ability in the following activity.

  1. Walking smoothly.
  2. Sitting down or standing up gracefully.
  3. Performing efficiently in recreational pursuits.

Is Extreme Flexibility Best?

Extreme flexibility has no advantage. If your joints are too loose or flexible, you may become more susceptible to injuries of the joints. Many people are able to stretch one or two inches (plus or minus) from the man. In other words, too much flexibility may increase the chance of injury.

Although no single test will provide adequate information about the flexibility of all the major joints of the body, the following two tests provide a reasonable indication of your ability to stretch.

Trunk Flexion for Evaluating Flexibility

Trunk Flexion for Evaluating Flexibility
Evaluating Flexibility

 

Purpose: To measure the amount of trunk flexion and the ability to stretch the back muscles and back thigh muscles (hamstrings).

Procedure: Sit with your legs fully extended and the bottom of your feet flat against aboard projecting from the wall. Now extend (stretch) your arms and hands forward as far as possible. Hold for a count of three while your partner uses a ruler to measure the distance (in inches) between the board and your fingertips. Distances before the edge (not able to reach your toes) are expressed as  negative scores; those beyond the edge are expressed as positive scores.

Improper Procedures:

  • Not holding the flexed position for a count of three.
  • Bending at the knees.

Trunk Extension for Evaluating Flexibility

Trunk Extension Stretch
Trunk Extension

 

Purpose: To measure the range of motion (flexibility) of the back.

Procedure: Lie in a prone position (face down) on the floor. Have a partner kneel and straddle your legs to hold your buttocks and legs down. With your hands grasped behind your neck, raise your upper trunk (chest and head) off the floor and hold for a count of three. Another partner measures the distance from your chin to the floor.

Improper Procedures

  • Not holding the measuring device in a perpendicular position while measuring.
  • Raisin the hips off the floor.
  • Not holding the extended position for a count of three.

Check Your Results

Norms for trunk flexion (inches from fingertips to bottom of feet).

  1. Normal range. Women: -4 to +8. Men: -6 to +6.
  2. Average (mean. Women: +2. Men: +1.
  3. Desired range. Women: +2 to +4. Men: +1 to +3.

Norms for trunk extension (inches from chin to floor).

  1. Normal range. Women: 12 to 30. Men: 4 to 27.
  2. Average (mean). Women: 21.  Men: 15.
  3. Desired range. Women: 21 to 25. Men: 15 to 20.

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Author: Jeni

Certified by the Professional School of Fitness and Nutrition in March, 1995; honored for exemplary grades. Practicing fitness and nutrition for over 20 years. Featured in the Feb. 1994 issue of "Shape" magazine. Featured in Collage in the spring issue of 1995 Low fat recipe's published in Taste of Home, Quick Cooking, and the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, among others. September, 2001: Featured in "Winning The War on Cholesterol" By Rodale Publishing

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