Normal Flexibility According To 101 Age Level

The ability to touch the toes with the fingertips may be considered normal for young children and adults. Between the ages of 11 and 14 years, however, many individuals who show no signs of muscle or joint tightness are unable to complete this movement. The proportionate length of the trunk and lower extremities is different in this age group compared with that of younger and older age groups.

These five drawings are representative of the majority of individuals in each of the following age groups: Figure A, 1 to 3 years; Figure B, 4 to 7 years; Figure C, 8 to 10 years; Figure D, 11 to 14 years; and Figure E, 15 years and older.

Reaching to touch the fingertips to the toes while sitting with legs extended shows interesting and significant variations according to age. The chart on the following page and the figures below indicate the variations in normal accomplishment of this movement at different age levels (26).

The change from the apparently extreme flexibility of the youngest child to the apparently limited flexibility of the child in Figure D occurs gradually, over a period of years, as the legs become proportionately longer in relation to the trunk. Standards of performance for children that involve forward bending should take into consideration normal variations in the ability to complete the range of this movement (27).

This 6-year-old girl touches her toes easily. There is good contour of the back and normal hamstring length.

This subject is a 12-year-old girl. The inability to touch the toes is typical of this age. (See also pp. 102 and 105.) Sometimes, leg length is the determining factor, and sometimes, as in this case, there is slight shortness of the hamstrings at this age.

FLEXIBILTY TEST 1: TOUCHING FINGERTIPS TO TOES

MEASUREMENTS OF 5115 INDIVIDUALS (26)

\

S

v V

y

-------

TT

/

H-

- - ""

\

/f / !

1

t

i

1

\

f

\ / / N

...

VI VII VIII IX X XI XII 11 12 13 14 15 16 17

College 18-22

CHART 1-A

FLEXIBILITY TEST #1: TOUCHING FINGER-TIPS TO TOES Measurements of 5115 Individuals

MALE

FEMALE

Range of Limitation

Mean

v„ Can Touch

Total E* d.

Grade Age

Total Ex'd.

% Can Touch

Mean

Range of Limitation

V - 9"

2V

86%

102

5

102

98%

3V2" - 4"

t* - to-

4"

74%

125

6

108

83%

3"

1/2" _ 4"

V - noV

3"

56%

147

7

152

63%

3V2"

V2" - lOVï"

1 V - sVa" I

3Vî-

52%

150

8

192

c*

1/2- - 10V2" '

4V2-

52%

150

9

158

57%

4V

1" - 13V2"

1" - 10"

4V

50%

158

V 10

174

59%

4"

1/2- - 8"

r - 11V

4V4"

41%

140

II

156

49%

4V2"

VÏ" - 10"

V2- - 91/2-

4"

28%

100

12

100

43%

6*

V - 1iVÏ*

iVî" - 13"

4V2"

40%

151

VII! 13

115

30%

5"

Vi" - ion

1/2" - 10"

4V2"

50%

222

14

108

37%

51/2-

2" - 13"

V - 12V2-

3V2"

60%

100

X 15

498

59%

5"

Vi" - 12"

V2- - 12 V

5"

64%

100

XI Ifc

507

64%

6"

1" - 12"

1" - 12"

3"

87%

113

17

405

69%

5"

1" - 14"

f-ir

' 4"

90%

1

18-22

307

95%

3"

1" - 6V2"

Total number tested: 2033

J

3082 :Total number tested

CHART 1-B

CHART 1-B

FLEXIBILITY TEST 2: TOUCHING 103

FOREHEAD TO KNEES

MEASUREMENTS OF 3929 INDIVIDUALS (26)

\

\\ \\ \\

\ \

\ * \ \ \ \

\ \ \ H

J

u

f

\ \ \ \ \ V

r

\ H \ \ \ \

\ \ V

\

Pre-school K I II III IV V VI VIIVIII IX X XI XII 1-4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17

CHART 2-A

College 18-22

FLEXIBILITY TEST #2: TOUCHING FOREHEAD TO KNEES Measurements of 3929 Individuals

MALE

FEMALE

Range of Limitation

Mean

% Can Touch

Total Ex'd

Grade Age

Total Ex'd.

% Can Touch

Mean

Range of Limitation

vr

- 10"

5"

5%

102

K

102

16%

4"

V2* - 7Vî*

2" -

11 v2-

7"

2%

125

6

108

5%

6"

V2" - IOV2-

3"

- 13"

?V

2%

147

II

152

6%

1" - 13V2"

T/j-

- 11"

6V2"

1%

150

8

192

5%

6"

1" - IIV2"

4"

- 14"

9"

2%

ISO

IV 9

158

3%

7 Vï"

1" - I2V2"

1" -

12 Vi"

7"

0

158

V 10

174

2%

6"

1" - 10 V2"

l'A'

- 15"

7V2"

0

140

VI

156

4%

63/4"

2" - 11V2*

2Vl-

- 131/2"

9"

1%

100

VII 12

100

5%

6"

V2" - 11V2"

1" - 18"

8"

1%

112

13

116

4%

7-

1'/2" - 20"

2"

- 19"

10"

1%

215

IX 14

129

6%

7-

Va" - 12"

1 v

- 19"

9"

1%

100

X 15

173

6%

8"

1- - 18V2"

21/2-

- 231/2"

11"

1%

100

16

277

0

8"

r - 18V2"

VÏ-

- 18»

8" |

1%

113

XII 17

281 1 1%

8"

lVi" - 20"

Total number tested:

1712

2117

Total number tested

CHART 2-B

PROBLEMS WITH "PHYSICAL FITNESS TESTS"

PHYSICAL FITNESS TESTS

Many tests have been designed to evaluate the physical fitness of schoolchildren, armed services personnel, athletic teams, and countless others engaged in health and fitness programs. The same movements also have been used as exercises to build strength, endurance and flexibility. Awards, promotions, and accolades are given or withheld on the basis of these test results.

In spite of long-standing and widespread use, three tests in particular need to be re-evaluated:

1. Knee-bent sit-ups.

3. Sit-and-reach.

The usefulness of these tests depends on their accuracy and their ability to detect deficiencies. Unfortunately, these tests have become an evaluation of the performance rather than a measure of the physical fitness of the performer (27,28). Emphasis is on excesses— speed of performance, number of repetitions, and extent of stretching—rather than on quality and specificity of movement.

The authors decided to discuss these tests in this book because of the need to correct misleading information and because of the adverse effects of these tests and their results on both children and adults.

Knee-Bent Sit-Ups with Feet Held Down

The knee-bent sit-up test requires that a person perform as many sit-ups as possible in a period of 60 seconds. The stated purpose of the test is to measure endurance and strength of the abdominal muscles. The test does not fulfill that purpose, however. Instead, it measures strength and endurance of the hip flexor muscles, aided in their performance by stabilization of the feet.

The sit-up movement requires flexion of the hip joints, and this movement can be performed only by hip flexors. Abdominal muscles do not cross the hip joint, so they cannot assist in the hip flexion movement.

Abdominal muscles flex the spine (i.e., curl the trunk), and to test the strength of these muscles, the trunk must be curled. If these muscles can hold the trunk curled as the movement of hip flexion is performed, this indicates good upper abdominal muscle strength.

The problem with using the sit-up movement as a test or an exercise lies in the failure to differentiate between a "curled-trunk sit-up" and an "arched-back sit-

up." The former involves strong contraction of the abdominal muscles to hold the trunk curled; the latter puts a stretch on the abdominal muscles and a strain on the low back. This strain may be felt by both children and adults when they are required to perform as many sit-ups as possible in the time allotted.

Many will start the sit-up with the trunk curled. The endurance of the abdominal muscles will not be sufficient to maintain the curl, however, and as the test progresses, the back will arch increasingly. Some will not have the strength even to curl the trunk initially, and the test will be done with the back arched for the entire 60 seconds. The problem is that those with weak abdominal muscles can pass this so-called "abdominal muscle test" with a high score.

The test, as advocated, requires speed of performance. For accurate testing of abdominal muscle strength, however, the test must be done slowly, making sure that the trunk curls before hip flexion starts and that the curl is maintained both when hip flexion starts and while moving to the sitting position.

To have validity, the test should require that credit be given only for the number of sit-ups that can be performed with the trunk curled. Currently, the test has no such requirement. Furthermore, the test cannot be done rapidly if the position of the trunk is to be observed closely. (See Chapter 5 for extensive coverage of the sit-up movement and testing of upper and lower abdominal muscle strength.)

The people most in danger of being adversely affected by repeated sit-ups with the knees bent are children and youths because they start with more flexibility than adults. Those adults who have low back pain associated with excessive low back flexibility also may be adversely affected by this exercise. An interesting phenomenon in some subjects who have done a great number of knee-bent sit-ups is that they show excessive flexion in sitting or in forward bending but a lordosis in standing.

It is unfortunate that the ability to do a certain number of sit-ups, regardless of how they are performed, is used as a measure of physical fitness. Along with pushups, these two exercises probably are stressed more than any others in fitness programs. Done to excess, however, these exercises tend to increase—or even produce—postural faults.

When, how, and to what extent the knee-bent position should be used is discussed in Chapter 5 on pp. 207-209.

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Fire Up Your Core

Fire Up Your Core

If you weaken the center of any freestanding structure it becomes unstable. Eventually, everyday wear-and-tear takes its toll, causing the structure to buckle under pressure. This is exactly what happens when the core muscles are weak – it compromises your body’s ability to support the frame properly. In recent years, there has been a lot of buzz about the importance of a strong core – and there is a valid reason for this. The core is where all of the powerful movements in the body originate – so it can essentially be thought of as your “center of power.”

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