Remember when you were a baby? Well, you probably don’t remember, but the next time you see a toddler watch him sit down and stand up. He probably does it with ease, without any help from his hands.
That’s the way we were made, yet by the time most of us reach adulthood, we discover we have lost much of our natural flexibility, mobility and strength.
Here’s a test for you: Cross your legs, sit down without using your hands, and then stand back up again. If you can do that without using your arms, you score a 10 out of 10. If you have to use one arm to help you up, you get a 9 out of 10, and if you need an arm both on the way down and the way up, you get an 8.
Here’s a video, too: (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1tdtHWURId0). Can you score at least an 8 out of 10?
Why should you care about this?
Truth: Flexibility, balance and strength are key indicators of how long you’re going to live.
In fact, a study published in 2012 (http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/2047487312471759 ) in the European Journal of Cardiology studied more than 2,000 people aged 51 to 80. According to the research, those who scored less than 8 out of 10, are twice as likely to die within the next six years than those who scored 8 or above. Those who couldn’t do it at all, even with the help of one arm, were even more likely to die in the next five years. Yikes.
Arms overhead test
It goes without saying, you should be able to safely put your arms over your head in life—meaning you can lock your elbows out and put both arms overhead behind your ears while keeping a neutral spine. That being said, you’d be surprised how tough this is for most people.
A pass means you have the shoulder and upper-back mobility to safely do movements that involve putting your arms overhead, such as a shoulder press, push press, jerk or snatch. A fail—if your elbows flare out, your shoulders roll forward, or your back extends—means you’re more likely to get injured doing movements involving putting your arms overhead. Even simple movements like putting something into a cupboard could potentially lead to injury.
Lunges are but a big step. But many people can’t lunge properly.
A perfect, safe lunge means your back knee (the one on the ground) stays behind your hip, while your back ankle sits at 70 to 90 degrees of flexion. Meanwhile, your front knee is in line with your front foot, and your front shin is pretty much vertical.
A pass means you’re going to be much better doing things like running, sprinting and jumping, not to mention Olympic weightlifting movements. It also means your hips, knees and ankles are less likely to get injured from simple day-to-day life things like walking up stairs. A fail—if your knee has to jut out way in front of your toes, or your knee caves in, or your back knee falls in front of your hip, or you can’t keep your back toes on the floor—then you’re seriously lacking hip mobility.
Try all three and report back: Can you pass all three tests with flying colors? If you can’t, talk to one of our coaches about how we can help.