Sit and Reach Flexibility Test

The sit and reach test is a common measure of flexibility, and specifically measures the flexibility of the lower back and hamstring muscles. This test is important as because tightness in this area is implicated in lumbar lordosis, forward pelvic tilt and lower back pain. This test was first described by Wells and Dillon (1952) and is now widely used as a general test of flexibility.

Sit and Reach flexibility testAbout Test Variations

There are a few variations of the test. Many of the variations of this test involve the differences in the value of the level of the feet.

The most logical measure is to use the level of the feet as recording zero, so that any measure that does not reach the toes is negative and any reach past the toes is positive (such as for PRT Sit and Reach for the Navy). However, using negative values is more difficult for statistical analysis, and for comparing results. The procedure for the Presidents Challenge version require that the box is made with 9 inches (23 cm) at the level of the feet, so reaching two inches past the toes is recorded as 11 inches. The Eurofit manual suggests having 15cm at the level of the feet, and also 10 inches has been used (NHL combine testing).

A limitation of the traditional sit and reach procedure is that people with long arms and/or short legs would get a better result, while those with short arms and/or long legs are at a disadvantage. The modified sit and reach test controls for this, as the zero mark is adjusted for each individual, based on their sitting reach level.

The traditional sit and reach procedure also measures the combined flexibility of the legs. The Back-Saver Sit and Reach, as as used by Fitnessgram Program, tests one leg at a time. In the Chair Sit and Reach Test, designed for testing the elderly, the dominant leg is tested while the subject sits on a chair and leans forward.

If you do not have a specifically made sit and reach box, you can use any box, crate or step with a long ruler (make your own). You can follow the description of the Sit and Reach at home, a simple version that can be done with minimal equipment, or the V-Sit Flexibility Test, similar to the sit and reach though it uses a line on the ground instead of a box.

There are similar flexibility tests not performed while sitting. The Kraus-Weber Floor Touch Test, toe touch and Schober test all measure flexibility of the lower back and hamstrings, while standing and leaning forward.

Test Procedure

The basic outline of the sit and reach test is described below. Some of the more popular variations are described in more detail above.



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