In using our body, flexibility can mean having muscles that can relax through a wide range of motion. In other words, we can do postures like the splits with ease. Better yet, we have control so that we can move into the splits easily and come out of them with as much control as we had when going in.
But flexibility could also be in the different ways we can think of doing the splits.
Do we always do it with both legs on the ground? How about while laying on our back, or standing on one leg, or even while balanced on our hands or on the top of our head?
With respect to our muscles, flexibility is a measure of how freely we can move within a certain set of limits. Doing the splits, we can change the relationship between our legs to such an extent that we can move one leg forwards and the other backwards so that the legs are at 180 degrees to each other or more. However, if we can also conceive of doing the splits while balanced on one foot or while balanced on our hands, then the relationship that we change is that between ourselves and the earth.
While thinking about the possibilities (balancing on the hands) and doing them are two different things, at least having thought of the possibility, we can work towards making it real.
We then have more than one way of doing the same thing. We can then choose whichever way is best depending on how we are feeling or based on the circumstances we are in at the time.
Anatomical position is a reference used by surgeons (or people who study dead bodies) to describe the position a body is currently in.
With the body prone, knees pointing straight up and palms facing upwards, we have a reference for describing any other disposition of the body while it is laying on the table.
For those of use that are living and doing things with our body while we are in them it may be useful to have more than just one reference for change.
What is important is that we state clearly the starting position of the body.
Then from there we can go on to describe movements relative to that starting position.
As an example we could start in a standing position with the legs wide and the knees pointing straight ahead. this is our reference. From there we tilt the pelvis forwards while keeping the spine straight.
If we used the anatomical position as our reference we would first have to abduct the legs and then tilt the pelvis forwards.
Having to always use the anatomical position as our reference for movements or positions of the body it is like
having to travel from London to New York in order to get a flight to Paris.
Being able to use other reference positions we can go straight from London to Paris and back again if we choose.
The purpose of being able to choose our reference position is to make it easier to describe what we are doing to get the body from our reference position to our finishing position.
It’s to make the movement description simple, less wordy.
It’s for convenience, efficiency and ease of communicating what we are trying to get the body to do or communicating what a body has done.