Are Women Really More Flexible Than Men?
If you have been to a yoga practice or watched dance performances, it’s incredible to see how so many women can move and extend their bodies through large ranges of motion with relative ease.
With so many of these flexibility feats being largely performed by women, it also makes you wonder if the female body has innate flexibility characteristics that makes them more flexible?
Well it turns out there are some interesting studies on the possible flexibility differences between males and females.
Most of the evidence available up until now has looked at the degrees of difference in lower body flexibility between both sexes and has compared both sexes.
And this is understandable that most of the tests would look at the lower body in comparison when you consider that the hip joint has such a big range of motion and so many large muscle groups entwined around it.
However, it is interesting to find more recently that the differences between males and females in flexibility (and the seeming advantage the latter group has) was only true when comparing hip flexibility between the sexes in the general population.
These studies didn’t include equally trained individuals from both sexes and many other joints of the body apart from the hips.
Females all around the world tend to have a greater range of motion in the hip joint and in the elbow than men (Alter 1996).
Yet, it seems that men are just as and if not more flexible in all of the other major joints compared to women.
This is hard to consider and grapple with because many previous studies have revealed that females tend to be more flexible than males of the same age due to a lot of inherent qualities. For instance, there are higher amounts of elastin (yep – think elasticity) protein found within the tissues of females relative to males.
There are also some other structural differences too that seem to put men on the back foot when it comes to flexibility – differing bone structure, higher collagen concentrations (allowing men greater contraction tension and rigidity), and the fact that males tend to carry more muscle mass can mean that men can get in their own way so to speak when trying to move – see below:
Now not so fast if you’re a man and you’re about to throw in the towel on your stretching effort.
Despite the inherent structural differences, the biggest factor in comparing the two sexes which most studies do not represent, is that most of the information acquired from testing men is being deduced from untrained individuals.
Meaning that the amount of flexibility training and experience between both groups is not being fully factored in. Are women in general more flexible than men? – Yes.
Do women in general do more yoga, dance, and other flexibility-based activities than men – also yes!
Yes, it is true that females are more flexible than males to a degree due to some attributes of their genetic make-up.
BUT this is not the main determining factor of their flexibility – instead, it is how much they PRACTICE flexibility that is the key determinant of their ability to get into greater ranges of motion and deeper stretches than their male counterparts.
Although women are generally more flexible than men, it is definitely not the case for ALL women.
For example, if a woman is inactive or spends a lot of her time in fixed postures and positions (e.g. sitting at a work desk), you can bet she is less flexible than a man who spends more of his day being active and stretching more regularly.
In reality though, this situation is in reverse – most males work longer hours at a desk and don’t spend enough time stretching and mobilising their bodies.
It’s not so much about the make-up of the practitioners but rather how much they practice.
And even if females may start out with inherent advantages, these won’t be realised if not implemented – what you don’t use you lose!
The best studies between men and women factor in the history of prior training and flexibility practice as this is the major determining factor as to how flexible a person will be.
Why most males aren’t flexible is not due so much to their lack of inherent structural qualities and physiological differences.
The main problem is that men don’t practice flexibility enough or give it enough attention and value.
If men keep thinking that yoga and stretching is an activity reserved for females, they will only ever continue you to be evermore stiff and rigid.
So if you’re a man and you’re tight and bound up – stop blaming your masculinity.
Your flexibility (or lack thereof) if predominantly a result of your day-to-day choices to not stretch properly. No whinging or whining is going to fix your pains – you need to be a man and fix them action!
If you feel you’re practicing a lot but you’re not getting anywhere with your flexibility, your tightness, and your restrictions, then reach out to us if you’re serious about changing this.
Our method of stretching not only makes your muscles more supple, but it also makes them stronger and more functional in the newly acquired positions.
If you’re really tight, restricted and ultimately frustrated with your body and its lack of functionality, then talk to one of our expert coaches. Fill in your details below to find out more about our program and see if you are a good fit for a specifically tailored plan to fast-track your goals: