May 5, 2009

Young and flexible

A real disadvantage of women of mothering age or older (roughly the latter half of the 20s and beyond) is that they just can't move like younger girls. I don't think I need to spell out the key reason why that's no fun. But it shows up everywhere. When she's dancing, she can't bounce or spring up and down, keep her body in a provocative unnatural position, and so on. She won't have that natural spring in her step, or have an uncontrollable urge to kick her leg out and try to balance herself when taking pictures. And she won't hop into your arms to hug you -- odds are her feet won't leave the ground at all. Borrrrinnnnng.

Just to show how quickly flexibility is lost with age (and thus why all professional gymnasts are young), here's a graph from this article on hypermobility (aka double-jointedness):

The female curve is above the male curve for all ages, which confirms our hunch about sex differences. However, that difference is puny compared to the yawning chasm between young and old. Here, "old" isn't even that old -- they've already bottomed out to their 50-something values by the time they're in their 20s. Unless they make a strong effort, like if they're a professional dancer, they totally lose it. The only post-pubescent group that's still pretty flexible is teenagers. Ahhhh. Just in case you forgot why this combination is so heavenly, here are a few reminders (pictures OK, but ads NSFW):

One, two, three, four, five, six.


  1. I'm not sure if there's any such thing as a professional gymnast, unless you count gymnastics teachers and coaches.


  2. My aunt lived in Indonesia because my uncle was working with an oil company there. When she first arrived, she was talking with an indonesian lady of about 40 years old. She looked up at some coconuts growing on the tree and remarked how cool it was to have these coconuts growing right outside the house, too bad they were too high to reach. The mighty spry 40 year old indonesian lady scrambled up the coconut tree and retrieved a few coconuts.

    Flexibility may be a use it or lose it thing. That is, it may be possible to retain a significant level of flexibility just as it is possible to remain a healthy weight, simply by getting off one's bottom. While maximum flexibility may be like maximum intelligence: peak at age 18 and slowly decline thereafter, the natural rate of decline might not be as stark and severe as the observed decline which is probably strongly affected by inactivity.

  3. I'd have to agree that flexibility definitely decreases with age, Comparing the flexibility I had in my early teens to now, my early 20's, I have seen a huge change. What came easily to me when I was 15, now is quite difficult without regular stretching. I wonder if diet could play a part in flexibility? I wonder if certain ethnic groups are more flexible than others?


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