Test your flexible and learn why it matters

( CNN) We often hear about the importance of stretching, especially after exert, to improve flexible. Indeed, analyzes have found that regular stretching can increase flexibility in as little as four weeks. But get results requires commitment: You need to stretch at the least three days a week, ideally every day. Activities such as yoga and Pilates can improve flexibility, as well.

How flexible you are and how flexible you can become are also influenced by factors that you can’t control, such as genetics and gender. As anyone who has ever find a co-ed yoga class can show, women tend to be more flexible than men. Traumata and certain conditions like arthritis can also limit flexibility.

Age plays a role, as well. Starting around age 30 or 40, flexible continuously decreases, with men losing flexible more quickly than women. But this deterioration doesn’t result uniformly throughout the body.

Put the yardstick on the ground with a strip of videotape across the 15 -inch mark. With your shoes off, sit on the floor with the yardstick between your legs and the 0-inch end closest to you. Keep your legs straight-out and your feet about 12 inches apart. Sitting up straight, position your heels at the 14 -inch mark. Place one hand immediately on top of the other and slowly reach forward as far as you can without ricochetting. Drop your head if it helps, and be sure to exhale as you stretch. Note where the ends of your thumbs reach on the touchstone. Repeat two more periods and record the farthest distance. Stand and raise your right arm above your head. Bending your right elbow, reach behind your head with your palm touching your body. Reach as far down the middle of your back as you can, with your thumbs pointed down. Place your left arm behind your back with your palms facing out and your fingers upward. Reach up as far as possible and try to touch your other hand. Have someone measure the distance between the ends of your middle fingers. If they don’t fulfill, record the length of the gap as a negative number. If they touch, score that as a zero. If they overlap, record the length of the overlap as a positive number. Do the test two more hours and record your best reading. Then switch arms, putting your left hand behind your head, and repeat.

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