Stretching Exercises - Flexibility Training for
large percentage of the North American population suffer from lack
of flexibility and would fail the sit and reach test or the 90 degree
Hamstring flexibility seems to be the most prevalent since it can
be the cause of upper and lower body issues affecting both muscles
and joints. In many instances with fitness or health tests, they
will use a hamstring flexibility component to represent the bodies
overall condition. The sit and reach test uses a small box or even
just a measuring tape while the person sits with legs out and feet
flexed they reach forward as far as possible and take a reading.
2 readings are usually done and averaged or best number used.
An easier and faster test is done with the person on their back;
one leg is left relaxed on the floor while the other is lifted.
The lifted leg remains as straight as possible without locking out
the knee joint and the tester will look for a 90 degree angle for
a pass. Both legs are not always tested, using only the right in
many cases but both are not equal and if you try this you may find
one side tighter than the other. Reasons for this can be your body
position during work or a lapse of time causing an imbalance. These
types of situations make matters worse and are usually chronic because
people cannot just quit a job even if it hurts their body. Many
companies now acknowledge work ergonomics and do try to help with
proper chairs, desks, working conditions in factories and such but
overall health costs show that not enough is being done! Lack of
activity is one problem and although Yoga being a popular activity,
people are still suffering of problems due to tight muscles and
not taking the time to stretch.
Tight muscles affect circulation which then means less oxygen is
being transported through the blood to the muscles. The muscles
then suffer for this, causing aches, pains, and more tightness and
so on. It certainly is a vicious cycle and yet the solution is fast
and free. Daily stretching can take 15 mins and alleviate many common
Proper circulation relates to so many health benefits, many you
would not even feel but many which you do feel are related to back,
neck, hip and knee pain!
A simple way to improve circulation to your neck, shoulders, and
back is to do the 90 degree test pose and hold it; slowly over time
you should be able to pull the leg forward closer to your upper
body by small increments. This pose stretches the hamstrings which
when tight can be the main cause of lower back and knee pain. The
hamstrings are located at the back of your thigh and for women wearing
high heels; you are even more at risk to shorten these muscles by
using those heels daily.
When the muscles don't get proper oxygen you will feel it and it
is not comfortable so by taking time to stretch each day you are
reaping so many rewards for such a small investment of time. Help
improve your circulation and you will also improve your way of life!