Agility tests have often been used exclusively for athletes as most athletic activity involves changing direction in a controlled, efficient manner. But considering the nature of everyday activity, agility is relevant to all exercisers. Everyday motion involves changing direction efficiently: getting into and out of your car or desk chair at work, keeping up with small children, and even some housework. These activities may not require quick movement characteristic of sports, but they do require the body to switch direction efficiently, making agility play an important role in everyday movement and injury prevention. The more efficient a body is in its ability to change direction, the more prepared it will be for such instances, hopefully reducing the risk of injury.
Testing agility agility in clients with chronic pain poses some challenges. Most traditional agility tests like the T Test and Hexagon Test require hops, shuffles, and running, which are often too stressful on all ready aching joints. The Edgren Side Step test is a good alternative to traditional agility tests as it involves stepping quickly while changing direction. Depending on the severity of a client’s symptoms or their cardiovascular fitness level, you may want to adjust the length between each mark. Rather than spacing each mark three feet apart, try 18 inches apart or use individual rungs of an ABC ladder to delineate distances between each mark. Whether or not you use the original evaluation or a modification, the Edgren test will provide a good benchmark for measuring progress in agility.
Similar to agility, coordination, although not a typical fitness component, is an important aspect of everyday physical movement. There is no definitive test for coordination, so completing a simple exercise should give you a good idea of your client’s level of coordination. A simple exercise like tossing a small stability ball while your client is standing is a good way to measure and improve hand-eye coordination–this activity can serve as both a test and exercise. Observe the relative ease or difficulty your client may have in catching the ball, and be sure to record these observations as they will provide a starting point from which to improve. Coordination deteriorates with age and inactivity, so including related drills in an exercise program will help in improving neuromuscular efficiency: the ability of the body’s nervous system to transmit signals to the muscular system to initiate movement (yes, this is just another fancy way of describing coordination!).
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