There’s a general binary thinking on how flexibility is measured, either you can or you cannot. While this is useful in terms of goal orientated thinking it can be a detriment to both the persistence of the trainee as well as the correct tracking of range of motion development. In our experience, range of motion tends to increase in large jumps and then some time at maintenance more so than in a strict linear manner, so having more than one method to track can be fruitful in terms of not losing hope.
Generally, we want to track our training sessions as they happen, but we have to allow for variance in how we perform in them. Just as we have stronger and less strong days in strength training, even when other factors such as sleep, diet etc seem consistent, we will see the same in flexibility training. This expresses by having days where we feel more or less restricted in our range of motion. So assessing training only day to day is not the full answer. As a rule of thumb, we want to take full assessment of our flexibility development training every 4-6 weeks to see how it is actually progressing.
Not tracking can be a cause of changing plans too soon while there is still progress to be made or on the other side it can lead to sticking to an ineffective plan when changes could be made to help increase progress at a faster rate.
When assessing results of our programming, we look at more than one variable to assess if the program is working for a trainee.
1: Has the Range of Motion increased in the position or movement?
This is simple, did you go deeper into the position you are trying to achieve? Are your legs further apart in splits, is a new part of the body in contact with the floor that wasn’t before? Can you lift your leg higher? This is an objective measure of progress and keeping track of closing in on the desired goal, but it is not the whole picture.
2: How does the position feel?
After tracking our objective progress, getting into the subjective realms is very important. Maybe the position has not gotten deeper from week to week but the feeling of comfort and ease in the position has increased. This is the next most important variable to keep track of.
There is a range of sensations to be felt in a position or movement, and being able to bring clarity to them, and distinguishing between different sensations is a great measure of progress. So for example, can we feel that we have gone from feeling pain or strong discomfort in the given flexibility position to one of strong physical sensation or even comfort.
One of the first experiences when entering a new depth is the reaction of wanting to get out of it very quickly. This either manifests as a quick exit to an easier range or small movements and adjustments to avoid it if you stick out in the range. Being able to tolerate the depth to a greater degree is a key measure of progress. In static positions, this would express by being able to stay truly static in the position and not doing micro movements within the range.