The Right Run- Your Action Plan


200498101-001Still hell-bent on racking up the miles? Remember there’s a fine line between pushing through and pushing your luck — and only you (and your doctor) will know what’s best when the running gets rough.

By taking a few precautions and planning, you can prevent many common running injuries. Here are some tips for preventing injuries.

To minimize the aches and pains, consider these general tips to help stay on the safe side:

  • Listen to your body: Don’t ignore pain. A little soreness is OK. But if you notice consistent pain in a muscle or joint that doesn’t get better with rest, see your health care provider.
  • Create a running plan: Before beginning a running routine, talk to a trainer. A trainer can help you create a running plan that is in line with your current fitness/abilities and long-term goals.
  • Stick to the 10 percent rule: Don’t increase mileage by more than 10 percent each week. Upping those miles unexpectedly is a major reason overuse injuries happen!
  • Warm up & cool down: Heading for an intense run? Remember to warm up and cool down to ease the body in and out of a workout. This will help keep injuries at bay.
  • Stretch: Many injuries occur as a result of inadequate stretching. Before and after you run, stretch your muscles thoroughly — especially your calf, hamstrings, groin, and quadriceps. Also, warm up for five minutes — by walking, for example — before you start stretching. Stretching cold muscles may cause injuries.
  • Fix your form: Smooth and efficient is the key. Not only will poor form hinder performance, it could lead to unnecessary pain. So make sure to use correct running technique to prevent injuries, especially shin splints and back aches. Imbalances in the body can also lead to problems down the road, and it never hurts to visit a skilled physical therapist who can help identify and address any biomechanical issues.
  • Strength train: Add weight training and ab exercises to your routine. This strengthens muscles and develops core strength. Lifting can increase structural fitness — which helps bones, ligaments, tendons, and muscles endure all that pounding. Pay special attention to strengthening hips, since weak hips are linked to higher rates of injury.
  • Cross train: Mix up your fitness routine. Don’t only run. Try swimming, biking, tennis, or some other activity. This helps prevent overuse injuries that more commonly occur when you do the same type of exercise over and over again.
  • Dress appropriately: Wear lightweight, breathable clothing that wicks moisture away from your skin. Dress in layers. Also wear a hat to protect against the sun and cold.
  • Be sneaker smart: Wear proper-fitting socks and shoes with good support. If the soles of your running shoes have worn thin or are angled, it’s time to get a new pair. If you have foot problems, such as flat feet or high arches, consider using orthotic shoe inserts. Keep track of how many miles those shoes have logged, and replace them every 600 miles — if not sooner! It’s also worth swinging by a specialty running shoe store, where they can help you figure out which shoe is the perfect fit.
  • Run wisely: Run on a flat, smooth surface and avoid steep hills until your body gets used to the activity. Avoid running on uneven surfaces that put unnecessary stress on ligaments. And while off-roading is a fun change of pace, rough terrain may make it easier to twist an ankle — so be extra careful on the trails.
  • Know your limit: Make sure to take at least one day off per week, and mix up those hill-repeats with some easier recovery runs. Don’t forget to pencil in regular rest days, too. You (and your body) deserve it!
  • Be safe: Run during the day, in well-lit areas, or use a light so that you can be seen. Keep a cell phone and identification on you. If running with headphones, set the volume low enough so that you can hear cars and other noises. Run with a partner when you can.
  • Weather matters: Monitor the weather conditions before you go for a run. Don’t run outside if it is over 90 degrees Fahrenheit, below freezing, or the humidity is high.
  • Stay hydrated: Make sure you drink an extra 1 1/2 to 2 1/2 cups of water on the days you run. If you are running for more than an hour, drink a sports drink to replenish electrolytes lost in sweat.

Treatment of Common Running Injuries

imagesMost running injuries can be relieved by following these treatment strategies. If pain and discomfort continues, see your health care provider. You may need more advanced treatment to resolve your running injury.

Rest: Take it easy. If you keep running, your injury may get worse. Choose alternative ways to exercise while you heal, such as swimming or cycling.

Ice and cold therapy: Apply ice packs to reduce pain, inflammation, and swelling.

Compression: Wrap the affected area with tape and use splints and supports to control swelling and stabilize the affected area.

Elevate: If you sprain your ankle or hurt your foot, elevate it to reduce swelling.

Stretch: To reduce pain and tension of the affected area, gently stretch and massage the injured area.

Pain relievers: Take pain relievers.

Activity levels: Decrease the amount of activity & return slowly to previous activity levels. Don’t try to push through pain. If you notice discomfort, take a break from running. If the pain continues, seek care from your health care provider.

Disclaimer: Remember that none of this information should substitute professional medical advice. Definitely check with a doctor or physical therapist first once those aches and pains arise!

Advertisements

New Year Resolution: Fitness


This New Year our resolution is Fitness!…and here are a few exercises we are using to get fit ASAP!

THE CHOP

4.-the-chop-420x420_0This highly functional exercise not only works the core, it also challenges the important reactive process involved in core stability. It’s amazing the sweat you can produce with this move.

  • Stand sideways with your feet wider than shoulder-width apart and hold a weighted ball at about forehead level, arms bent 90-degrees and knees slightly bent.
  • Then, as if you were going to hurl the ball down and behind you to the right, tighten your abs and rotate your body into a lunge-style stance, bending both knees until the back shin is parallel to the floor.
  • Your arms will straighten with your hands traveling to the outside of your left knee.
  • To reverse, tighten your abs and explode up through your legs, returning to the start position.
  • Do 15 from left to right and another 15 from right to left.

BUTT UPS

6.-butt-ups-420x420_0These are a fave because they work your core while strengthening your upper body and stretching your back and legs.

  • Start in plank position on your forearms with your tailbone tucked and core braced.
  • Press back into a down-dog like position with your butt in the air, back flat, and chest press downwards.
  • Return to start while engaging your core.
  • Try up to 3 sets of 15 reps.

ROND DE JAMBE

18.-rond-de-jambe-420x420This exercise works the entire body. I love this one because it challenges balance and is effective in producing accelerated results.

  • Step your right foot on top of the band and stand with your heels and inner thighs pressed together, toes pointed out, hands on your hips.
  • Reach your right leg forward and circle it around to the back, maintaining external rotation of the legs.
  • Reverse the direction to complete one rep.
  • Do 2 sets of 10 repetitions on each leg.

MOUNTAIN CLIMBERS

1.-mountain-climbers-420x420From a full plank position, alternate ‘running’ your knees into your chest as quickly as you can. Push your speed as much as possible so that you are completely out of breath by the end of your 20 seconds.

Lets get FIT!!

DISCLAIMER: Please consult your medical professional before beginning exercises.

Dance to Fitness- Part 2


dancer-bandage-footRegardless of gender or generation, more and more people are moving to the dance floor for a workout that is exciting and effective. Though dance fitness is considered a fun full-body calorie blaster, like other physical activities, it isn’t risk-free. If you’ve embraced dance for your workout, here are some tips to make sure you keep dancing injury-free.

Dance-related injuries to the lower body are common

“For avid dance fitness goers, the most common injuries are repetitive strain injuries which occur when there is too much stress placed on weak points of the body for long durations of time,” says Andrea Wilson, a former ballet dancer & physical trainer.

The most common injuries are to the foot, ankle, knee & lower back, most often occurring when dance enthusiasts are fatigued (read: too much dance, not enough recovery) or have recently changed their workout parameters (type of exercise, frequency or intensity).

The most common types of strain injuries:

Though dance is considered a safe & effective modality of fitness, some types of dance can put you at higher risk for injuries, such as ballet, are more injury-prone than other forms of dance. Ballet, in particular, has a very high incidence of injury because of the extreme stresses and demands it places on the body. However, any type of dance that involves repetitive impact also puts dance goers at higher risk for injury, particularly for dance participants who are not well prepared for the repetitive movements & positions.

Tips to Avoid dance-related injuries:

Don’t let the potential for injury deter your dance fitness enjoyment – all forms of physical activity present some level of risk. Simply be smart about your dance workouts. Here’s how.

#1: Don’t be Extreme

In order to avoid dance-related injuries and safely & effectively partake in dance fitness it is essential to gradually increase frequency, intensity  the duration of your exercise.

#2: Take the time to Warm up

Stretch gently & always warm up with a few minutes of light exercise before a dance class allowing your muscles to loosen & warm-up & you will be better prepared for a dance-fitness workout.

  1. Cardiovascular Exercise: The first part of every warmup routine should be cardiovascular exercise to get blood flowing to your muscles. Start your warmup routine with five to 15 minutes of cardiovascular exercise such as jogging, marching in place or skipping. Do this aerobic activity until you feel your pulse increasing and you start to break a sweat. Do not include in your warmup routine any aerobic motions that require extensive flexibility, such as kicks or high knee lifts.
  2. Dynamic Stretching: Once blood is flowing to your muscles, engage in dynamdynamicstretchic or active stretching. In this type of stretching, common motions used in dance should be performed to ready your muscles for action. Straight-leg swings, high knee lifts, torso twists & arm circles are all dynamic stretching motions you may include in this portion of your warmup routine. A dynamic stretching routine must include stretches for all major muscle groups from head to toe. Execute eight to 10 repetitions of each motion in a fluid, dynamic fashion. Start with a smaller range of motion — for example, a low kick forward and swinging back — increasing your range with each repetition.
  3. Static Stretching: Because of the high degree of flexibility required in dancing, it is important to incorporate some static stretching into your warmup routine as well. Static stretches are those that are held in a stationary position. For example, include leg stretching at the ballet bar, lifting one leg up onto the bar and leaning forward, aiming your nose for your knee. Include many static stretches for your legs and also a few for your upper body and arms. Hold these static stretch positions for 30 seconds. Repeat each static stretch three times.
  4. Increasing Flexibility: Stretches to increase flexibility should not be part of your warmup routine. Flexibility gains are better made at the end of your practice when your muscles are supple & thoroughly warmed up from your workout. Static stretches alone or with a partner are the best way for you to increase your flexibility. Stretch your muscle until you feel a gentle stretch & then hold that position. When aiming to increase flexibility, do not bounce or stretch to the point where you feel pain.

#3: Cool down Properly

  1. It is extremely important to allow time for a proper cool down & more intensive stretching after class.
  2. This will prevent lactic acid build-up & any unnecessary injuries that might occur if you simply walk out of the class & head on with the rest of your day.

#4: Focus on Proper technique

  1. Watch your dance instructor to learn proper dance technique as well as ask questions about moves you are unsure about.
  2. Proper technique is a key ingredient in the prevention of dance-related injuries. Turning your body the wrong direction or holding a position incorrectly can instantly lead to injuries.
  3. Also, listen to your body – if something doesn’t feel right, don’t do it.

#5: Footwear counts

Before you do a dance-fitness class, ask the dance instructor for recommendations on the best footwear for that particular type of dance. You might be able to get away with your regular running shoes for a class here & there, but if you plan on partaking frequently, you can prevent unwarranted injuries by investing in appropriate shoes.

#6: Crosstrain

  1. No doubt you get a full-body workout in most dance fitness classes, but doing only one type of workout puts you at risk for injury.
  2. Many injuries can be prevented with improved posture, flexibility & strength. That means instead of only doing dance classes every week, get in a couple days of strength training, a Pilates class & another type of cardiovascular workout. Not only will you reduce your risk of injury, you will also get more fit and avoid single-workout burn out.

You’re hurt, now what?

If you do happen to get a dance-related injury, you can put yourself on a fast road to recovery by refraining from dance classes – and other workouts that exacerbate the injury – and following the PRICE approach. Remember the acronym PRICE – protect the tissues, rest, ice, compress, and elevate an injury. And for persistent problems, see a physical therapist for specific recommendations & exercises.

Also Check out out Post Dance to Fitness-Part 1

Dance to Fitness- Part 1


fotolia_2522095_XS

MOVE, GROOVE…BURN AND LOSE!

It is no secret that that regular exercise is important to good health and longevity. But it can be a challenge to find new ways to exercise, avoid boredom & work a broader variety of muscles.

Sick of the gym? Just dance!

The American Council on Exercise says, dance-based workouts as a growing trend. Plus, you burn about 200 to 400 calories per hour dancing – similar to the calories you burn swimming, cycling or walking. If regularly practiced, dancing can lead to

  • improved strength & stamina
  • sharper balance & coordination
  • increased bone density
  • slower heart rate
  • lower blood pressure
  • improved cholesterol levels
  • boosts your mood, energy level, confidence & self-esteem while it lowers your stress & fatigue;

all signs of improved health & fitness. So if you’re ready to get your dance on (and burn off the fat!), read on for more ways to shape up while shaking your stuff!

Ballroom Dancing:

ballroom-dancing

  • Full body workout
  • Breeds toned arms, lean legs, chiseled abs & amazing flexibility
  • If regularly practiced, dancing can lead to a slower heart rate, lower blood pressure & improved cholesterol levels, all signs of improved health and fitness.

Ballet:

balletphoto

  • Increase your flexibility
  • Engages the hips, thighs, back, & abs
  • Gentle enough to practice during pregnancy

High-energy routines like the salsa, samba and cha-cha can be compared to an intense workout at the gym. Plus, because it’s a weight-bearing activity, ballroom dancing builds bone density and works nearly all the muscles of the body and sharpens balance and coordination.

ZUMBA your way to a HOT Bod:

zumba

  • Improves Strength & Stamina
  • Body Sculpting
  • Burns 500 to 800 calories
  • Energising

Hot Workout: Sexy Fitness

Forget treadmills & elliptical machines! From strip-tease aerobics to pole dance fitness, there are some super sexy ways to get slim & build up confidence in your body.

Hit the pole

pole_dancing

  • Build strength
  • Improves balance & flexibility
  • Burn up to 400 calories an hour
  • Moves like backbends, kicks and slides work your abs, thighs, glutes and legs.

Work up a sweat with a Striptease

  • For a low impact exercise
  • Improves Stamina
  • Body Sculpting

Shake & sweat with Belly-dancing

Ana-Maria-bellydance

  • Works your Core & Pelvis Floor muscles
  • Improves Strength & Stamina
  • Improves Flexibility of the Hips & Spine
  • If you’re pregnant, belly dancing is a great way to stay active without hitting the gym – the movements perfect your breathing techniques & work the ab and pelvic muscles crucial for a healthy (and speedier) labor & delivery
  • Belly-dance is also good for joint & bone health

Samba:

78315885_XS

  • Focuses particularly on your torso, legs & gluteal muscles
  • Developing lower body & core strength

Hip Hop:

Hip1

Nightclub Cardio Workouts:

l

  • General Body workout
  • Improves Stamina

Jazzercise:

Jazzexercise_Main

  • Combines Jazz dance, Pilates, yoga, resistance training & kickboxing movements
  • Improves cardiovascular health
  • Improves strength & endurance
  • Improves flexibility

DIY Dance:

Can’t make it to a studio? Create your own dance floor at home. Turn up the tunes (and close the shades, if you’re so inclined) & just let loose. Jump, skip, twist, turn & wriggle around until you get your heart rate up. And if you have kids, grab them for an impromptu dance party set to their favourite songs. You’ll work up a sweat, &  they’ll love seeing all of mommy’s moves!

If you can get your heart rate going, sweat some and move during dance it is an excellent way to get your metabolic rate motivated and going. Expert fitness instructors will tell you that after a good work-out, our bodies burn more calories for a couple of hours. Now think about the advantage of dancing for fun and burning more calories after you’ve ended your daily routine. Not only will you benefit from dancing but everyone will have fun. You may even become a good dancer in the process of getting fit.

There are many forms of dance from ballet style to hip hop and even tap dancing. Choose what suits you best or combine a couple different styles for your routine. The key is that you are moving & becoming more active & in a fun way. This means you’ll tend to stick with exercise more so than with other forms. You can customize your routine to fit your age & fitness level, too.

GO DANCING!

P.S.: Dance to Fitness- Part 2

Trigger Finger: What you can DO


Trigger finger, often experienced by the elderly or by people diagnosed with conditions like rheumatoid arthritis, causes the fingers to pop or get stuck when you try to extend them. Diagnosis is often made by a physical examination & manipulation of the finger by your doctor. Exercises & physical therapy treatments for a trigger finger are suggested before more serious treatment options such as surgery are recommended. 

Definition

Trigger finger is a bone & joint condition caused by a contraction of the flexor tendons lining the inside of the finger. The flexor tendons are secured to the ligaments and bones of your fingers with sheaths. If your finger flexor tendons become thickened or develop small nodules due to age, wear or tear, you’re often unable to extend a finger or a thumb. This causes your finger to bend into a fixed position as you try to extend, much the way you’d hold your finger to pull a trigger, hence its name.

As with all disorders of the upper extremity, proximal segments must be screened.  Also, because posture can contribute to distal problems, it should be addressed to provide the patient with optimal outcomes. It is important to commence Physiotherapy soon after diagnosis to prevent the condition from getting worse & to get back to your normal level of functioning.

Physiotherapy treatment will help to reduce swelling, relieve pain and stiffness & regain functional movement of the finger. Physiotherapy treatment may include:

  • Ultrasound: Reduce swelling & accelerate healing
  • Soft tissue massage
  • Joint mobilisation
  • Passive stretching
  • Supervised hand & finger exercise program to regain strength, dexterity & flexibility
  • Splinting or Taping

Patient Education

Since trigger finger is observed as an overuse injury, education is very important. Education should be given on:

  • Rest
  • Modifications of activities
  • Specialized tools
  • Splinting
  • Modalities
  • Posture

Modalities such as heat/ice, ultrasound, electric stimulation, massage, stretching, & joint motion (active & passive) can have some positive effects on trigger finger. Following heat with stretching can provide more extensibility with plastic deformation. Joint movement & mobilizations increase joint & soft tissue mobility via a slow, passive therapeutic traction & translational gliding.

Exercises

Tendon Exercises

  • Perform a series of tendon gliding exercises.
  • Start with your fingers extended outward and your thumb pointing away from and perpendicular to the palm. Flex your fingers toward your thumb, as if you’re making the shape of a duck’s beak. Your finger and thumb should be approximately 1/2 inch apart. From this position, curl your fingers into your palm, placing your thumb along the outside of the index finger. Curl your fingers more and make a fist; this time, curl your thumb over the outside of your knuckles.
  • Slowly open your hand and lift the fingers, knuckles bent, into a upright position, your thumb again extended away from your palm. Repeat the sequence several times.

Soft Tissue Mobilization

  • Massage or soft tissue mobilization may help reduce the severity of your trigger finger or thumb constriction.
  • Massage manipulates muscle, tendon & ligament tissues & floods the affected area with blood & nutrients.
  • Massage also helps relax tightened muscles, which may facilitate other trigger finger exercises for greater efficacy and benefits.
  • One method of massaging a sore trigger finger is friction massage, which a physical therapist can do or you can do yourself. Stroke the affected finger in a downward motion toward the palm or upward toward the tip of the finger. This may help relieve pain and stiffness caused by nodules & lengthen the finger muscles and tendons.

Palm Presses

  • Hand & finger exercises that contract & extend the muscles & tendons of the fingers may provide relief & greater range of motion of the finger & thumb.
  • Pick up small items & place them in your palm, squeezing tightly for several seconds. Release, opening your fingers wide, & then repeat as instructed by your physical therapist.
  • Regular exercise and movement may help lengthen the flexor tendons, relieving symptoms of trigger finger.
  • Avoid activities which involve a sustained grip. Hold off on the use of grip strengthening devices or exercises involving repetitive squeezing – these put stress on the irritated tendon.

If fingers bend & lock during the night and are painful to straighten in the morning, it may be helpful to wear a splint to keep them straight while sleeping.

Splinting
A first step in treatment is to stop doing activities that aggravate the condition. Splinting is one of the best ways to limit motion. There are various ways to splint a patient but, ultimately, it will depend on what provides the patient with the most relief. Splints are usually worn for 6-10 weeks. It should be noted that splinting yields lower success rates in patients with severe triggering or longstanding duration of symptoms.Two major types of splinting most recently studied:

  • Splinting at the DIP joint.  This showed to have resolution in 50% of the patient’s symptoms.
  • Splinting at the MCP joint with 15 degrees of flexion.  This showed to have resolution of the patient’s symptoms at both 65% and 92.9%, which is consistent with current literature.

 

 

 

Taping Technique (Click for video on Taping)

DISCLAIMER: Please consult your medical professional before beginning exercises.

Senior Fitness Test- Functional Fitness Testing


The Senior Fitness Test was developed at Fullerton University, by Dr. Roberta Rikli and Dr. Jessie Jones. As such, the test is sometimes known as the Fullerton Functional Test. It is a simple, easy-to-use battery of test items that assess the functional fitness of older adults. The test describes easy to understand and effective tests to measure aerobic fitness, strength and flexibility using minimal & inexpensive equipment.

The individual fitness test items involve common activities such as getting up from a chair, walking, lifting, bending, & stretching. The tests were developed to be safe & enjoyable for older adults, while still meeting scientific standards for reliability & validity.

List of Equipment Required

The following is a complete list of the equipment you will need to complete the Functional Fitness Test:

  • A Chair Without Arms – preferably a folding chair for greater stability
  • A Stopwatch or Watch with a second hand
  • 5 Pound Weight for women
  • 8 Pound Weight for men
  • Piece of String or Cord about 30” in length
  • Visible, bright color duct tape
  • Counter – to track number of repetitions completed or paper and pencil to track manually
  • Ruler that goes up to 12”
  • Measuring Tape
  • Small Orange Cone

 Functional Fitness Tests

CHAIR STAND TEST — Testing Lower Body Strength

Daily Benefit: Lower body strengthis important for activities such as getting out of a chair, on the bus, out of the car, & rising up from a kneeling position in the house or garden. The strength of your lower body can directly affect the ease with which you perform the activities you do every day.

Equipment:Chair without arms, Stopwatch

Test Steps:

  • Place the chair against a wall where it will be stable.
  • Sit in the middle of the chair with your feet flat on the floor, shoulder width apart, back straight.
  • Cross your arms at the wrist and place them against your chest.
  • The test partner will tell you when to begin and will time you for 30 seconds, using the stopwatch. You will rise up to a full stand and sit again as many times as you can during the 30‐second interval.
  • Each time you stand during the test be sure you come to a full stand.
  • When you sit, make sure you sit all the way down. Do not just touch your backside to the chair. You must fully sit between each stand.
  • Do not push off your thighs, or off the seat of the chair with your hands to help you stand unless you have to.
  • Keep your arms against your chest crossed and do not allow the arms to swing up as you rise.
  • If you are on your way up to stand when time is called you will be given credit for that stand.

Risk Zone: Less than 8 unassisted stands for men & women.

ARM CURL TEST — Testing Upper Body Strength

Daily Benefit:Upper body strength is important for activities such as carrying laundry, groceries, & luggage. It is also important for picking up grandchildren & giving them a big hug! A lack of upper body strength could keep you from pouring milk from a jug, being able to go grocery shopping for yourself & maintaining your independence.

Equipment: 5 lb Weight & an 8 lb weight, stopwatch & a straight‐back chair with no arms.

Women will curl a 5 lb. weight in this test and Men will curl an 8 lb. weight for their test. It is extremely important to the accuracy of the test that you use the appropriate weight for men & women in this test.

Test Steps:

  • Your test partner will tell you when to begin and will time you for 30 seconds, using the stopwatch or a watch with a second hand.
  • Do as many curls as you can in the allotted 30‐second time period, moving in a controlled manner.
  • Remember to do a Full Curl, squeezing your lower arm against your upper arm at the top of each curl and returning to a straight arm each time. Keep your upper arm still.
  • DO NOT SWING THE WEIGHT.
  • If you have started raising the weight again and are over halfway up when time is called, you may count that curl!

Risk Zone: Less than 11 curls in correct form for men & women.

CHAIR SIT AND REACH TEST — Lower Body Flexibility Test

Daily Benefit:Lower body flexibility is important for preventing lower back pain. It also plays a role in your balance, posture, in fall prevention, and in your gait, or walking. Lower body flexibility is important for maintaining an active, independent lifestyle.

Equipment:Chair, Ruler

Test Steps:

  • Place the chair against a wall so it will be stable.
  • Slide forward in your chair until you are able to straighten one of your legs. The ankle of your straight leg should be flexed at about a 90‐degree angle. Your other foot should be flat on the floor.
  • Place one of your hands directly on top of the other so that they are stacked with your fingers extended.
  • Exhale as you bend forward at the hip and try to reach your toes. If the extended leg begins to bend, move back in your chair until the leg is straight.
  • Hold the stretch for at least 2 seconds and Do Not Bounce or jerk as you reach.
  • Take two practice reaches on each leg. Determine which side is more flexible.
  • You will measure and record only your most flexible side on your scorecard.
  • Be sure you have a stable chair so that the chair will not tip forward as you reach for your toes.
  • After you have completed the practice reaches, your test partner will hold a ruler across the toe of your shoe. The center of the toe of your shoe is considered to be a measurement of “0”.
  • Reach forward toward your toes. Mark your score to the nearest half‐inch
  • If you reach past this “0” point at the middle of your toe, you receive a positive score of as many inches as you reach past it, measured to the nearest half‐inch.
  • If you cannot reach your toes, you receive a negative score of as many inches as you are short of the “0” point at the middle of the toe of your shoe, measured to the nearest half‐inch.
  • Try the reach twice and record the better of the two measurements.

Risk Zone: Men: Minus (-) 4” or more; Women: Minus (-) 2” or more.

BACK SCRATCH TEST — Upper Body Flexibility Test

Daily Benefit: Upper body flexibility affects your ability to reach for items that may be high on a shelf, change a light bulb, or do any activity that requires arm and/or shoulder movement.

Maintaining flexibility in your upper body will assist you in continuing to live independently.

Equipment: Ruler

Test Steps:

  • Place your left arm straight up in the air above your left shoulder.
  • Bend your left arm at the elbow to reach toward your back, with your fingers extended. Your elbow pointed toward the ceiling.
  • Place your right hand behind your back with your palm out and your fingers extended up.
  • Reach up as far as possible and attempt to touch the fingers of your two hands together. Some people are not able to touch at all, while others’ fingers may overlap.
  • Take two practice stretches with each arm, determining which side is more flexible.
  • You will be measuring and recording only your most flexible side.
  • You are now ready to be measured. Perform the stretch as outlined above. Without shifting your hands, your test partner will position your fingers so that they are pointing toward each other.
  • The distance between the fingertips of one hand and the other is measured to the nearest half inch. If your fingers overlap, the amount of the overlap will be measured.
  • Fingertips just touching receive a score of “0”.
  • If your fingers do not touch, you receive a negative score of the distance between your fingers, measured to the nearest .5 or half inch.
  • You receive a positive score if your fingers overlap, measuring the overlap to the nearest .5 or half inch.
  • If you are able to touch your fingers together, do not grab your fingers together and pull, as this will affect the accuracy of your score.
  • Do the stretch twice, recording the best score and remember to indicate if the score was positive or negative.

Risk Zone: Men: Minus (-) 4” or more; Women: Minus (-) 2” or more.

8-FOOT UP AND GO TEST — Speed, Agility & Balance Test

Daily Benefit: Important for activities such as walking through crowds, moving in unfamiliar environments & across changing terrain, & crossing the street before the light changes. The better your balance is, the more confident you will be traveling outside your home & living an active life. Your speed & balance directly affect your self‐assurance as you go about your daily activities.

Equipment:Chair, Cone (or other marker), Stopwatch

Test Steps:

  • Sit in the chair with your hands on your thighs, your feet flat on the floor with one foot slightly ahead of the other.
  • Your test partner will hold the stopwatch and stand near the place where you will walk around the marker on the floor.
  • Your test partner will signal, “go” and start the watch. For test accuracy, your test partner must start the watch on the signal, “go.” Do not wait to start the watch after the participant has started to move.
  • The test is timed to the nearest tenth (.1) of a second, so it is important to be as accurate as possible when starting and stopping the watch.
  • Upon the signal “go” rise from the chair and walk as quickly as possible out to the marker. You may press off your thighs of the chair when you rise. Do not run. Walk around the outside of the marker and return to your seat as quickly as possible, being sure to be safe in your movements.
  • As soon as you are fully seated again your test partner will stop the watch and record your time to the nearest tenth of a second.
  • If you would like to take a practice test before testing for a score you may. You may then take the test twice, recording your best score.
  • Remember to record the score to the nearest tenth, for example 4.9 seconds or 8.9 seconds.

Risk Zone: More than 9 seconds.

WALK TEST (6 MINUTES) & STEP IN PLACE TEST (2 MINUTES)* — Physical Stamina/Endurance Test

Daily Benefit:Endurance is important for activities such as shopping, walking for a distance, and traveling. The more physical stamina you have, the more energy you will have to do the things you enjoy. You will also be able to do more with less fatigue. Your endurance affects your ability to perform many of your daily activities and to maintain your independence.

Equipment:Stop Watch, Measuring Tape, Visible Tape (i.e. masking tape or painter’s tape)

Set Up:

Begin by setting the minimum knee or stepping height for each participant. This is at the level even with the midway point between the kneecap and the front hipbone (Iliac crest). It can be determined using a tape measure or by stretching a cord from the middle of the kneecap (patella) to the hipbone. Then you can fold it over and mark this point on the thigh with a piece of tape.

Test Steps:

  • Your test partner will tell you when to begin and will time you for two full minutes using the stopwatch.
  • Begin stepping, being careful to lift your knees to the appropriate height each time so that your knee is level with the tape mark on the wall. Your entire foot must touch the ground on each step to ensure that you are not jogging, you need to “step”.
  • Your test partner will count each time you raise your right knee, counting each full stepping cycle. A full step cycle is when both the right and the left foot have lifted off the floor and come back down.
  • Your test partner should alert you at each 30 second interval to allow you to gauge how you feel. If you cannot complete the full 2 minutes that is fine, just complete as much time as you can comfortably complete.
  • If you wish to rest during the test you may stop stepping, rest and then resume the test. The stopwatch will continue to run and you may start stepping again as long as you are still within the two‐minute test period.

Risk Zone: Walk Test: Less than 350 yards for men & women; Step Test: Less than 65 steps for men & women.

*The Walk Test is used to assess aerobic fitness unless the person uses orthopaedic devices when walking or has difficulty balancing, in which case they do the Step in Place Test

Fitness is very important for those in their senior years. Older adults need to have adequate strength, flexibility, and endurance to accomplish everyday tasks. Assessing these components of fitness can detect weaknesses which can be treated before causing serious functional limitations.