Many people don’t realise that tight hamstrings can cause complications. The hamstring muscles are attached to the back of the pelvic bones, run down the back of the thigh and insert behind the knee. Therefore, tightness of the hamstring muscles can result in altered pelvic, spine and lower limb biomechanics, increasing the risk of injury.
Good flexibility is important for posture, balance, reducing the risk of lower back pain and preventing injuries.
Sit and Reach Test
An easy way to test your flexibility is the ‘Sit and Reach Test’.
This test does not measure the hamstrings alone; it involves a combination of the hamstrings, spinal muscles, calf and upper back muscles which reflects common movements such as bending over to pick something up.
All you need to perform this test is a tape measure and masking tape (optional).
How to perform the Sit and Reach Test
Remove your shoes and sit on the floor with your legs straight in front of you, keeping the feet hip distance apart.
Your heels should be aligned at the 15-inch/38cm mark on the tape, with the zero end toward the body (the tape measure can be secured to the floor with masking tape placed at a right angle to the 15-inch/38cm mark making it easier to align your heels).
Place one hand on top of the other with fingers aligned. Take a deep breath in and slowly exhale. As you exhale lean forwards at the hips and stretch as far as you can along the tape measure. Note the distance you reached and repeat three times.
Use your best score of the three trials.
How does your score compare to the average?
Note your best score in cm then subtract 38cm to calculate the distance beyond your feet.
If you did not reach your toes your measurement will be a negative score.
If your score is below average don’t worry!
Results can vary depending on age and how much activity you have done before the test. You may find warming up and stretching improves your score.
Variations in arm, leg and trunk length make comparisons between individuals misleading.
Regular stretching and mobility exercises can improve your flexibility. (If you want some examples of these exercises please do get in touch.)
Don’t worry too much about how you rate, just try and improve your own score.
Completing this test every month can be a useful way to track your progress.