Assessing Flexibility

Flexibility is defined as the range of movement possible about a joint or series of joints ( e.g. the spinal column). It may be thought of as the degree to which one can stretch. Other terms are often interchanged when describing this movement, such as suppleness, range of motion and joint mobility. Increasing one's flexibility through a stretching program helps to reduce stresses placed on tissue during exercise. For example, sudden and unexpected falls often result in soft tissue injury such as sprains because joints cannot accommodate the extra stretch placed on them. Well structured and regular stretching exercises may help to reduce the incidence of these types of injuries.

Flexibility is also important in many sports. Skills such as jumping, hurdling and those involved in racquet sports all require good flexibility. Increasing one's range of movement increases the time over which force may be applied. Increased flexibility may also allow increased limb velocity and improve performance in events such as golf, throwing and racquet sports.

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