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Flexibility Fitness Test

Flexibility Fitness Test

Tue, 3 Nov 2009


Being able to move all of your joints through their full range of motion is important for good joint function as well as being able to walk, lift, and step normally. For example, if your knees cannot extend all the way, walking with bent knees puts extra stress on the hip and low back. The ability to move a joint through its normal range of motion is affected by the condition of the joint itself (for example, if you have arthritis) and the muscles and connective tissues surrounding the joint. A short (tight) muscle limits the joint’s ability to move normally. If the hamstrings (muscles on the back side of the upper leg) are too short, they limit the ability of the pelvis to tilt, which directly affects the lower (lumbar) spine and can lead to low back pain.

One of the most common fitness tests used to measure flexibility is the Sit-and-Reach test. This test, while not perfect, provides some information about the hamstring muscle group. The more the hamstrings allow one to reach forward, the less it restricts movement of the pelvis.

The Sit-and-Reach Test *

Alert! If you have low-back pain, doing this test may aggravate your condition.

Equipment/Test Setting

Tape measure or yardstick and tape and a partner to help record your score.


1. Perform a series of static stretches. These stretches should focus on stretching the trunk and legs. Following the stretches, you may also want to do some brisk walking.
2. Place a yardstick on the floor and put a long piece of masking tape over the 15 inch mark at a right angle to the yardstick.
3. Remove your shoes and sit on the floor with the yardstick between the legs (0 mark close to your crotch), with your feet about 12 inches apart. Heels should be at the 14 inch mark at the start of the stretch to account for the fact that the legs tend to move forward when performing the stretch.
4. With the fingertips in contact with the yardstick, slowly stretch forward with both hands as far as possible noting where the fingertips are to the closest inch. Exhaling when you stretch forward and dropping the head may allow you to stretch a bit further. Do not use fast and sudden motions, which can injure your hamstring muscles.
5. Perform the stretch three times with a few seconds of rest between stretches.
6. Record the best measurement.
* The sit and reach test is re-printed from the YMCA Fitness Testing and Assessment Manual, 4th edition, 2000, 60606.

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