- Poor flexibility can hamper athletic performance and increase the risk of injuries
- Being overly flexible won't necessarily confer any additional health benefits
The following is adapted from "Fitter Faster: The Smart Way to Get in Shape in Just Minutes a Day" by Robert J. Davis with Brad Kolowich Jr.
(CNN)We often hear about the importance of stretching, especially after exercise, to improve flexibility. Indeed, studies have found that regular stretching can increase flexibility in as little as four weeks. But getting results requires commitment: You need to stretch at least three days a week, ideally every day. Activities such as yoga and Pilates can improve flexibility, as well.
Sit and reach
- Put the yardstick on the ground with a strip of tape 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 and your feet about 12 inches apart. Sitting up straight, position your heels at the 14-inch mark.
- Place one hand directly on top of the other and slowly reach forward as far as you can without bouncing. Drop your head if it helps, and be sure to exhale as you stretch.
- Note where the ends of your fingers reach on the yardstick. Repeat two more times 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 fingers pointed down.
- Place your left arm behind your back with your palm 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 meet, 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 times and record your best reading. Then switch arms, putting your left hand behind your head, and repeat.
- Standing barefoot, try to sit on the floor with as little support as possible from your hands, legs, arms or other body parts. Crossing your legs is fine.
- From the seated position, try to stand up, again with as little support as possible.
- Give yourself a score of 5 if you sat with no support at all and 5 if you got up without support. For each support required, such as a hand, forearm, knee, side of a leg or hand on a knee, subtract 1 point. Subtract a half-point if you were wobbly sitting or standing.
- Do the test twice and combine your best scores sitting and rising.