Why Are Women More Flexible Than Men?

Why is it that the average woman appears to be more flexible than the average man, physiologically speaking? I believe this is the case even in women who don’t do any stretching exercises.


  1. Flexible in what way? Arms over the shoulder behind back? Splits? What?

  2. How do you compare activity levels and general range of motions used in daily life? Perhaps women you know do more activities that involve ‘incidental’ stretching?

  3. How do you compare flexibility with different substructures? That is, body proportion, joint shape and placement, etc., probably play a role in perception of flexibility, without necessarily having more range of motion within a joint’s normal range.

There are so many structural differences, I don’t know how you would compare the two. Or does that answer your question - perhaps what you see as more flexible is just normal range of motion differences based on narrower shoulders and broader hips? Or are you talking connective tissue differences?

Women tend to have fewer bulky muscles to get in the way of movement.

What Squink said. The more muscular one becomes the less flexible one also becomes unless one does stretches and exercises to avoid this. Most men don’t bother.

Ben Franklin once wrote that, “Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy.” Maybe it’s the same reason.

They have to fit around a 6" diameter baby’s head. That’s why.

It’s from picking up all those toys and junk all the time.

It actually has to do with their joints, and nothing to do with muscle. People with little muscle can be inflexible too. I’ll try to dig up a cite tomorrow, but women’s joints are a little different from men’s.

Not only are women more flexible than men, but pregnant women are more flexible than non-pregnant women. According to http://www.city-chiropractic.com/pregnant.html,

I want to say that testosterne acts to stiffen ligaments and tendons (among other things…) which is why teenagers are less flexable than kids, and adults the worst off.

It’s true–pregnancy makes you more flexible. I was never able to touch my toes as a child, no matter how much cajoling the PE teacher and the other kids gave me. My mother and I were talking about this shortly after I gave birth to my daughter. I went to show my mom that my hands wouldn’t reach much past my knees, and, lo and behold, I could actually reach my feet! Six years later, I still can do it. I assumed at the time that the process of childbirth had helped me stretch out in some way, but it was probably the hormones, as guava said.

I also think that it might be cultural. Flexibility is valued among little girls. Do you think a boy would have despaired so much about not being able to touch his toes in PE that he would be talking about it 20 years later? No, it’s mostly little girls who spend their recesses showing off their “American” and “Chinese” splits and their weekends taking gymnastics classes. All that practice probably helps build flexibility (didn’t do much for me, but, as I said, I was unusually inflexible until I got that shot of hormones!)

Update: A recent New York Times article discusses this subject.


In short, men are less flexible than women because we’re more athletic.

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