Chapter 4 – Flexibility
Flexibility is a component of physical fitness. Developing and maintaining it are important parts of a fitness program. Good flexibility can help a soldier accomplish such physical tasks as lifting, loading, climbing, parachuting, running, and rappelling with greater efficiency and less risk of injury.
Flexibility is the range of movement of a joint or series of joints and their associated muscles. It involves the ability to move a part of the body through the full range of motion allowed by normal, disease-free joints.
No one test can measure total-body flexibility. However, field tests can be used to assess flexibility in the hamstring and low-back areas. These areas are commonly susceptible to injury due, in part, to loss of flexibility. A simple toe-touch test can be used. Soldiers should stand with their legs straight and feet together and bend forward slowly at the waist. A soldier who cannot touch his toes without bouncing or bobbing needs work to improve his flexibility in the muscle groups stretched by this test. The unit’s Master Fitness Trainer can help him design a stretching program to improve his flexibility.
Stretching during the warm-up and cool-down helps soldiers maintain overall flexibility. Stretching should not be painful, but it should cause some discomfort because the muscles are being stretched beyond their normal length. Because people differ somewhat anatomically, comparing one person’s flexibility with another’s should not be done. People with poor flexibility who try to stretch as far as others may injure themselves.