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September 12, 2023

Why It Is Important to Assess Flexibility Both Before Starting and During a Workout

Why It Is Important to Assess Flexibility Both Before Starting and During a Workout

Flexibility assessments have traditionally received less attention than muscular strength and cardiovascular endurance. However, this report provides guidance for including flexibility in health-related fitness testing and suggests ways to improve the current state of flexibility assessment instruments and normative data.

The definition of flexibility used in this report is the intrinsic property of body tissues, including muscles and connective tissue, to move through an unrestricted and pain-free range of motion at a joint (NSCA, 1996). Unlike muscle strength and endurance, which are generally considered to be general characteristics of normal people, flexibility is highly specific to joints. For example, hip flexion may have a different range of motion than knee flexion, and the ability to touch one’s toes involves multiple joints and MTUs.

Consequently, no single flexibility test measures a person’s general flexibility; it is more accurate to use tests that measure the flexibility of individual joints or groups of joints. For example, the sit and reach test is a simple measurement of the flexibility of the lower back and hamstrings that has been around since 1952, and it has an extensive database of normative data for various age groups and genders.

There is a large range of acceptable flexibility levels, from very stiff to extremely flexible. While being at the upper end of this range might impress friends in yoga classes or games of Twister, it does not confer any additional health benefits. Instead, a more realistic goal is to assess and improve your own level of flexibility, so that you can enjoy the physical and mental benefits of stretching.