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What Is a Flexibility Test?

Daniel Liden
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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A flexibility test is a test used to determine, in relative terms, how flexible an individual is. Sometimes an individual will take a flexibility test simply to find out how flexible he is and to pinpoint areas in which he needs to improve. In other cases, fitness tests are used to determine an individual's eligibility for certain activities. Flexibility can be tested through a variety of different methods, such as the sit-and-reach test and the trunk rotation test. It is not uncommon for an individual to complete several of these tests as this is the only way for one to determine his overall flexibility.

The sit and reach test is the most common form of flexibility test; it is used to measure the flexibility of the hamstrings and the lower back. In the sit and reach test, an individual sits on the floor with his feet flat against a box in front of him. He then leans forward and tries to extend his hands as far down the box (in the direction of his feet) as possible. Someone, usually not the individual taking the test, then measures how far the test-taker was able to reach. This measurement is usually taken from the test-taker's feet to the farthest point he was able to reach, but this is not always the case.

Another common flexibility test is the shoulder flexibility test. Shoulder flexibility is very important in sports such as swimming and tennis; inflexible shoulders can lead to injury. To take the test, one lies flat on his back and holds a towel or a stick in front of himself. He then lifts the stick as high as he can without bending his elbows; all movement comes from the shoulders. The shoulder test is generally repeated several times with the hands different distances apart on the stick; the height of the stick and the distance between hands are both taken into account when scoring the test.

A flexibility test may be used for any of a wide variety of different purposes. Many individuals, particularly athletes, use the tests in order to figure out which stretches they should focus on. Some high schools and colleges use flexibility as one of the criteria to determine which students are required to take physical education classes. In some cases, an athletic team may also use this test to judge individuals who wish to join the team.

TheHealthBoard is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Daniel Liden
By Daniel Liden , Former Writer
Daniel Liden, a talented writer with a passion for cutting-edge topics and data analysis, brings a unique perspective to his work. With a diverse academic background, he crafts compelling content on complex subjects, showcasing his ability to effectively communicate intricate ideas. He is skilled at understanding and connecting with target audiences, making him a valuable contributor.

Discussion Comments

By bear78 — On Jun 29, 2011

If you want to see how flexible your trunk is, there is a really simple test you can do. I learned this from my friend and he helped me with it the first time.

You need to first draw a line on the wall with a pencil and it needs to be vertical. Stand in front of that line with your back to the line and make sure to leave space between you and the wall. Hold your arms straight in front of you, and without moving your feet, twist your trunk to the right until you touch the wall and have your friend mark that spot. Do the same towards the left. If the mark is before the vertical line, it's a negative point, if it's after, it's a positive. You need to measure the distance between the marks and the vertical line and take an average.

If the average of the two distances is 15-20 centimeters, that means you are very flexible. If it is between 0-5 centimeters, your trunk is not very flexible.

By SteamLouis — On Jun 26, 2011

I read that flexibility tests have been around since 1952 and we have been using it to assess how fit people are since then.

Some experts are now saying that flexibility tests are not always a good way to assess fitness. They say that there are shortcomings in some of these tests which can give wrong results. They don't always show how someone will do athletically either.

I absolutely agree with this. I do think that flexibility has a lot of benefits in sports but someone shouldn't be rejected to a sports team just because they didn't pass their flexibility test. For example, if someone has a different body proportion, with longer legs and shorter arms, it is not possible for him or her to do really well at a sit and reach test.

What do you think? Are flexibility tests a good way to determine whether someone will be good at a sport?

By burcidi — On Jun 25, 2011

In middle school, at the end of the school year, we had to pass different activities in order to get a passing grade in physical education class. I don't remember all of the activities, but I do remember doing the sit and reach test.

Students who were part of a sports team in school or who did sports as extracurricular activities were always really good at this test. I was not part of any sports team and didn't exercise much so this test was always a challenge for me.

I think flexibility tests in schools is important because many of the activities and habits we form at that age stay with us for life. These kinds of tests can encourage kids to take up sports, exercise and be healthy. I was definitely more active after that year than I was before and I do exercise regularly now.

Daniel Liden

Daniel Liden

Former Writer

Daniel Liden, a talented writer with a passion for cutting-edge topics and data analysis, brings a unique perspective to...
Learn more
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