When it comes to fitness for men and women, it is not always a one-size-fits-all approach. There are differences that must be considered.
Women have a higher incidence of joint laxity—loosening of the joint bones—and are predisposed to several orthopedic disorders related to it.
Fitness expert Paul Chek says that this increased joint laxity "is often associated with mechanical dysfunction of the shoulder, low back, hip, knee, ankle and foot."
Joint laxity can increase in women during menstruation or pregnancy, times when the hormones relaxin and elastin are high.
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Men tend to be less flexible than women, but it is important to know and understand their depth of joint mobility to help with injury prevention.
Despite these differences, it is equally important for both sexes to stay limber and practice stretching.
To help assess flexibility, the 9-point flexibility test was created by Dr. Mariano Rocabado, and is a good starting point to see if a person should perform more stretches or strengthening exercises.
After completing each stretch, the person assesses their abilities and calculates the resulting score.
Test your flexibility by looking at these nine points:
- Little finger can extend to 90 degrees (1 point for each finger)
- Thumb can be abducted to touch wrist (1 point for each thumb)
- Elbow will hyperextend 10 degrees or more (1 point for each elbow)
- Knee will hyperextend 10 degrees or more (1 point for each knee)
- You can touch both palms flat on the floor with legs held straight (1 point)
0-2—Hypo-mobile which means you need more stretching at night after a hot shower to loosen your tight muscles.
3-4—Mild hyper-mobility, so not too tight.
5-9—Marked hyper-mobility, which means that these people may have issues with shoulders, knees, hips becoming inflamed or popping out of joint. These tend to be the really flexible people in yoga classes.
Stay in shape in a fitness class.