Stretch, Really

Stretch, Really

I am not flexible at all. My son, on the other hand, could do a full-leg split up until last year. Alas, slowly, he is also losing the ability.

What makes you flexible, and how can an adult go back to a full split? Should you?

For those who are unaware, a full-leg split refers to the ability to have your torso on the ground with your legs in opposite directions. Ballerinas perform these types of routines effortlessly.

I can't even stretch my legs after a point; the pain is too much.

Flexibility refers to the ability to stretch your muscles. It is the elastic nature of the muscle that allows you to do so. Flexibility is different from strength, which is the load-bearing capacity of a muscle.

Flexibility occurs when you stretch your muscles on an ongoing basis. Slowly, as you stretch, your muscles develop the ability to stretch longer and longer. It is this ability that allows you to do a full split.

Children start with low strength but high flexibility. Unless you do something about it, we slowly lose capacity.

If you want to test your ability, you can do a battery of tests.

If you want to test your upper body, there is no better test than the back scratch test. Can you hold both your hands together at the back of your body?

Or, can you hold a bar around your shoulders in front of your body and then take it all the way back behind your body? Great, you have flexible shoulders.

The Schoeber test measures the flexibility around the spine. How much does your skin move when you bend around your spine?

So why should you care?

Imagine you are falling. Your muscles are being stretched in ways you have not done in a while. You risk injury. Unless you have already done it a thousand times before. In which case, you simply smile, pick yourself up, and move on like nothing happened.

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