Monday, March 2, 2020


Flexibility training is one of the most overlooked, poorly executed & undervalued components of
physical fitness and overall personal health.  Yet achieving and maintaining flexibility is an
important factor in reaching your optimal health and performance potential.

Flexibility refers to the range of motion for a given joint influenced by muscles and connective
tissues.  A flexibility warm-up & cool-down is stretching that is participated in before or after an
activity to improve performance, reduce the risk of injury and enhance recovery.

Stretching is a form of exercise that increases flexibility – it causes permanent elongation of
muscle fascia by opposing the function of the muscle, improving Range of Motion, and leads to
good posture and muscle balance.

Tight neck, shoulder & chest muscles lead to a rounded back & head position tilted forward.
Tight hips & back of thighs can lead to a pelvis that doesn’t move freely & can cause low back
pain.  All of this can be helped with a regular stretching regimen. 

TWO TYPES OF STRETCHING that can lead to increased flexibility are;

DYNAMIC STRETCHING involves moving parts of your body in a controlled, full range of motion and gradually increasing reach and speed of movement.   This improves dynamic flexibility and should be done as part of a warm-up. 

STATIC STRETCHING is used to stretch muscles while the body is at rest.
Muscles are gradually lengthened to an elongated position (to the point of discomfort) and held for at least 15 seconds.  This helps to relax the muscles and improve mobility and range of motion.  Static stretching exercises are part of a cool down at the end of a training session.

          You should be thoroughly warmed up before performing flexibility exercises
          Stretch to just before the point of discomfort–mild tension -use smooth, gentle movements.
          The feeling of tightness should diminish as you hold the stretch.
          Breathe out into a stretch.  Avoid holding your breath (relax).
          Hold each stretch for 15 to 60 seconds.
             (It takes 5-10 seconds for a muscle to release tension)
          Keep control & body relaxed (tense, rushed, locked joints all lead to injury)
          If  tightness intensifies or you feel pain stop the stretch
                      Pain = exceed limit = injury
          Stretch all major muscle groups of the body for balance & symmetry.
          Concentrate on areas that lack flexibility (chest, anterior delts, hip flexors, hamstrings, calves)
          Keep the neck & spine aligned.  Keep the abdomen pulled in at all times.
          Find a body position comfortable to you (find an alternative if you feel uncomfortable).
          Shake out limbs between stretches
          Complete 2-3 stretches before moving onto the next exercise.
          Stretching Frequency – minimum of 3 times per week, although daily is encouraged.

When Not to Stretch
          Within first 24-72 hrs of muscle or tendon trauma
          Following muscle strains & ligament sprains
          When joints or muscles are infected, inflamed, or hurt.
          After a recent fracture
          When discomfort is present – Do not “work through” or “stretch out” a painful area.
          If osteoporosis exists or is suspected. 
          Consult you doctor if you have questions.

Better posture                                                 
Increased Range of Motion
Injury Prevention (decreased low back pain)
Improved Muscle (neuromuscular) Coordination                 
Reduced Muscle Soreness (increased muscle recovery)
Help Balance Muscle Groups                        
Improved Performance
Development of Functional Flexibility
Reduce the build up of Lactic Acid
Increased Blood supply, nutrients & Joint Synovial fluid
Personal Enjoyment, relaxation
Reduced Stress

As you can see, Stretching is one of the key components of a balanced fitness program and should be a part of your exercise routine. Without flexibility training, you are missing an important part of overall health - it provides many important benefits that cannot be achieved by any other exercise or activity.

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