How flexible are you?

How flexible are you?

Try this experiment to test your flexibility.

What you need:

  • Cardboard or plastic box
  • 30 cm ruler
  • Sellotape
  • Scissors
  • A willing volunteer

How to:

  1. Sellotape the ruler to the box at the 20 cm mark. The 20 cm mark should be in line with the edge of the box. The lower numbers should be on the part of the ruler that is not touching the box.
  2. Place the box against the wall. Point the ruler towards you.
  3. Take off your shoes and sit down. Put your feet flat against the box and your legs flat on the floor.
  4. Slowly and gently reach forward towards the ruler. Reach along the ruler as far as you can go. Get your willing volunteer to record what number you reach.

The further along the ruler you can reach, the more flexible you are.

What's happening?

When you reach forward to the ruler, you are bending at your hip joints. This causes your lower back and hamstring muscles to stretch. The further along you can stretch, the more flexible you are.

This experiment is called the sit and reach test. Physiotherapists use the sit and reach test to find out how flexible their patients are and to see if a lack of flexibility could cause an injury.

Flexibility is important for sport. It means that your body can move through a whole range of different motions and positions. Some sports, like gymnastics, need a high level of flexibility. Are you flexible enough to do the splits like a gymast?

Curriculum information