STRENGTH PLUS FLEXIBILITY in the proper timing and intensity = coordination.
No matter how strong you are, you are missing one half your potential if you are inflexible. Tight muscles account for injuries, poor athletic performance, shortened steps, unease going up and down stairs, and trouble reaching to name a few.
Flexibility is important for everyone but especially for the athlete. Endurance depends to a great extent on the ability of muscles to give up contraction and go to full stretch. When one set of muscles is constantly fighting another set that cannot relax, you get tired. Working against tight, uncooperative muscles is exhausting and an athlete thus handicapped is almost certain to be injured sooner or later. When unexpected moves happen, tight muscles don’t give, they tear.
Once you have completed the tests that follow, use the videos or the books Myotherapy and Pain Erasure by Bonnie Prudden to loosen the muscles and perform the corrective exercises that will remedy the problems, keep you safe and moving well. Visit www.bonnieprudden.com and click on the videos for samples of how to find trigger points.
TEST FOR LOW BACK PAIN
When it comes to everyday people and everyday, living back and hamstring flexibility is important. Inflexibility of back and hamstrings accounts for 50% of all low back pain. Weak abdominals also accounts for 50% of low back pain. Teamed together you probably have low back pain already.
To test yourself, stand shoeless and with your feet together, knees straight, and slowly bend forward. No bouncing. How close can you come to touch the floor? You should be able to touch and hold for three seconds WITHOUT warming up. The reason for no bouncing or warm-up is we are testing “cold” muscles. Measure the distance from your finger to the floor.
If you can’t touch the floor there is an additional test that you need to do to see if the tightness is coming from your low back, your hamstrings, or a combination of both. Sit on a hard chair with knees apart. Bend forward and bring your head down toward your knees. If the standing flexibility test was failed, but your head goes way down between your knees, then the tightness will be in your hamstrings, calves, and hips. If, however, the head can’t come anywhere near the knees, the tightness will be in the back. If the head and knees touch but just barely, then it will be 50-50 and both hamstrings and back will needs work.
TEST FOR UPPER BACK AND SHOULDER FLEXIBILITY
This area is often tight due to old shoulder injury and/or tight chest muscles. Failure of this test may indicate a tendency toward round back which can lead to Dowagers Hump and limited lung capacity.
Stand with heels, seat, and upper back touching the wall. Raise one arm and try to touch the wall with the back of your wrist. If you can touch, good. If not, measure the distance from the wrist to the wall in minus inches.
TEST FOR SHOULDER FLEXIBILITY
As in the previous test, the tightness may be due to old injury, tight chest muscles, and over use as in awkward positions held by the violinist and flautist, or overuse in sports such as baseball.
Reach up your back with one hand and have someone mark the point of greatest reach. Measure from the belt line. Repeat with the other arm.
Reach down your back as far as possible, mark the point and measure up from the belt line. Repeat with the other arm. Ideally, when you reach down with one hand and up with the other, the fingers should touch.
TEST FOR HEEL CORD FLEXIBILITY
Heel cord and calf flexibility is especially important for skaters, skiers, dancers, and any action that requires extra stress on the Achilles tendon. Inflexibility can result in an Achilles tendon tear or even rupture which is not fun. Shortened stride in older people indicates inflexibility in this area.
Stand facing a wall, feet together and toes about three inches from the baseboard. Bend your knees and try to touch them to the wall. Keep the heels flat on the floor. If you can do this then slide your feet back a little and try again. When you can no longer touch, go back to the point where you could touch and enter the distance from the wall to your big toe.
TEST FOR THE QUADRICEPS
We are a nation of sitters. If the legs are strong and flexible, they serve as an auxiliary pump for the heart. If they are tight and inflexible, they make it harder for the heart than if they are merely weak. Loss of balance, trouble going up and down stairs, and getting up and out of chairs are indications of tight quadriceps.
Lie prone and have someone else try to touch you heels to your seat, one at a time. Measure the distance between your seat and the heel. If they touch they are doing fine. If they don’t measure the distance between the seat and each heel.
If you have questions or need help, email me at email@example.com.
For more information about Bonnie Prudden®, Bonnie Prudden Myotherapy®, workshops, books, self-help tools, DVDs, educational videos, and blogs, visit www.bonnieprudden.com. Or call 520-529-3979 if you have questions or need help. Enid Whittaker, Managing Director, Bonnie Prudden Myotherapy®