Most people, when asked how flexible they are, can’t give a clear opinion – largely because they assume that an inability to wrap their legs around their ears means they possess no flexibility at all.
But, there is a great range of flexibility, from the mobility of a Cirque du Soleil performer, all the way to being so stiff that you can hardly bend forward.
Understanding a client’s flexibility is an essential step when starting a stretching programme with them. It should be done every subsequent six to eight weeks during the training to ensure consistent monitoring.
First things first! Before you begin, ensure the client warms up thoroughly with 10 minutes of either jogging or skipping. Let’s begin.
Test 1: Modified sit-and-reach test
The sit-and-reach test is the most common method of testing flexibility. It measures the flexibility of the lower back and hamstrings. You’ll need a box about 30 cm high, and a one-metre ruler. Instruct your client to do the following:
- Sit on the floor. Make sure that your back and head are firmly pressed up against a wall. Your legs should be out straight ahead and knees flat against the floor.
- Place the box flat against the feet (no shoes must be worn). Keep the back and head against the wall and stretch the arms out towards the box.
- Put the ruler on the box. Move the zero end towards your fingertips. When the ruler touches the tips of your fingers you have the zero point. Then, the test can begin.
- Lean forward slowly as far as you possibly can. Keep your fingertips level with each other. Ensure that your legs remain flat. Your head and shoulders can move away from the wall at this point. Do not jerk or bounce so that you can extend your reach farther.
- Slowly stretch along the length of the ruler. Repeat this action three times. On the third attempt, reach as far as possible and hold for two seconds. Read the score. Repeat twice and note the best score.
Test 2: Trunk rotation test
This test of flexibility measures the flexibility of the trunk and shoulders. The only equipment that you need is a wall in addition to a piece of chalk or a pencil.
- Mark a vertical line on the wall. Stand with the back to the wall directly in front of the line. Your client should be about an arm’s length away from the wall, with their feet shoulder-width apart.
- Extend your arms out directly in front, parallel to the floor. Twist the trunk to the right and touch the wall behind with the fingertips. Your arms should remain extended and parallel to the floor. The client can turn their shoulders, hips and knees provided their feet don’t move.
- Mark the position at which your fingertips made contact with the wall. Ascertain the distance that this is from the line. A point before the line is a negative score and a point after the line is a positive score.
Repeat for the left side and take the average of the two scores and compare.
Test 3: Groin flexibility test
This test measures flexibility test in the adductors. The only piece of equipment that you will need is a ruler or tape measure:
- Sit on the floor with knees bent, your feet flat on the floor and legs together.
- Let the knees drop sideways as far as possible, keeping the feet together. The soles of the feet should be together.
- Clasp the feet with both hands and pull the ankles as close to the body as possible. Measure the distance from the heels to the groin.
Measure the results that you get according to the figures in the table below: