There is a growing need and awareness for all to engage in more stretching, or more correctly said, flexibility training.
Flexibility training is important to everyone, whether an elite athlete or someone just starting to exercise again. There are many benefits to flexibility training; however, one of the most important attributes is the ability to maintain a functional range of motion (ROM) or level of ‘flexibility’. With more completed flexibility training, it is easier for one’s body to become stronger. Simply, the body’s inability to move through an active ROM can inhibit the potential to gain and/or maintain more strength.
Having said that, what are the optimal types of flexibility training exercises? Here are two commonly used terms and exercise practices:
Dynamic stretches: These are typically utilized in a person’s exercise warm-up through a rhythmic, controlled movement of the limb that takes the muscle and joint to its normal ROM limit. This is primarily used to increase the blood flow to the muscle used and to increase synovial fluid to the joint.
Static stretching: This is a type of isometric contraction. Research indicates that it is potentially best to be performed post-exercise for a safer, more long lasting effect. This is primarily due to an increase of blood flow in the muscle as well as the joint is more ready to move. This type of stretching exercise can be performed a bit longer than normal (30 seconds or more), depending on a person’s age and conditioning. This also helps the muscle lengthen during post exercise cool-down and aids with the body’s ability to revert back to a normal ROM.
So if being flexible is so important, why do members of clubs not include it into their regular workout routine? Here are a few reasons:
–Confusing: They are unsure that what they are doing is correct.
–Uncomfortable: Sitting on the floor and raising their leg may seem awkward.
-‘It takes too much time’: A common excuse is that there are ‘too many muscles and too little time’.
–No feedback: There are not many ways to document that they are improving.
While many members currently do not embrace flexibility, the importance of stretching is crucial to their success and ability to maintain functional strength, move freely throughout the day and reduce risk of injury. Therefore, when considering a regular routine for flexibility training, consider the following for the client or the member:
Keep the plan simple, safe, comfortable and maximize the invested time. Last but not least, show them what they are doing provides results.
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