Dr. T in The New York Times: Why Testing Your Flexibility is Important
Dr. Theresa and Strength Coach Lindsay made an appearance in the New York Times in December in an article by Hilary Archauer titled, “Can You Pass the Flexibility Test?”. Dr. T demonstrated an easy flexibility assessment, Lindsay taught a Samson stretch, and various other movement experts spoke on flexibility. Read a summary below and find the full article here.
Key Takeaways from the article
#1 Everyday movements require flexibility
Flexibility isn’t just about putting our legs behind our head or doing the splits like a gymnast. Even simple things like picking up something off of the floor, getting onto the floor to play with children or investigate a plumbing leak, and turning our heads in the car require that our joints and muscles are mobile enough to allow movement without difficulty. The unfortunate reality is that with flexibility, if we don’t regularly use it, we lose it- our joints and muscles will complain more if we try to do a deep squat once or twice a year as compared to using that kind of mobility every day. But on the other hand, consistently spending a small amount of time each day using your body’s full range of motion can keep you limber for years!
#2 You CAN have too much flexibility!
Some people have HYPERmobile joints, or joints and muscles that allow them TOO MUCH range of motion, for example somebody who can get not just their hands, but their elbows on the floor from a standing position. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but if you’re somebody who is very flexible and has recurring injuries, you might benefit from doing LESS stretching, rather than more. For these individuals, physical therapists recommend strengthening so that you develop more control of your body in those deep ranges of flexibility.
#3 Why and How to assess your flexibility
It can be helpful to know your body’s baseline level of flexibility so you know quickly when something feels “off.” If your body starts to feel tight in new places, it’s possible that you’re not recovering from exercise well or that you’re not spending enough time moving through all the ranges of motion that your body offers.
Dr. T provided a great flexibility assessment that included a forward bend to touch the toes for the low back, a left/right neck rotation (aim for 90 degrees!), an open-the-book test for upper back flexibility, the knee-to-wall test for ankle and calf mobility, and a Figure-4 test for hip mobility. For images of each test, and what to do if you do find some tightness, you can find the full article here.