Focus on Flexibility – Studio Fitness of Morro Bay

Focus on Flexibility

Last week I was in the ocean on one of the Central Coasts more beautiful days.  A wave popped up, I turned to drop in, I started to make my bottum turn and I felt that always unwelcome ting in my calf.  The dreaded cramp!  Since I was on my second hour in the water at least my session wasn’t cut short.  That time in 53 degree water and with some dehydration setting in a cramp is not that uncommon.  But it got me thinking about my own flexibility routine and that of my personal clientele.  Hence this weeks topic.  

Feel free to reply with questions you have on your own flexibility program.  Click here to see illustrations and description of some common and effective stretches.

Let’s start with a definition of flexibility: The ability of a joint to move throughout its full range of motion without any muscular or structural restriction. The main goal  is to obtain a degree of flexibility throughout the body that is equally balanced. 

A very important aspect of flexibility is that it must be balanced functionally when performing a task. This means that there is a balance between having flexibility and stability. 

There are many types of stretching techniques some of the more utilized are listed below. 

Static and Ballistic Stretching 
Static stretching is then the muscle is lengthened slowly (to inhibit firing of the stretch reflex) and the stretch is held for 15 to 25 seconds. As the position is held, the muscle gradually lengthens allowing for the stretcher to stretch the muscle further. Ballistic stretching is performed using rapid bouncing movements to force the target muscle to elongate. This type of stretching is not recommended because it generally elicits a myotatic stretch reflex which will leave the muscle shorter than its prestretched length. 

Passive and Active Stretching
Passive stretching is administered to the stretcher by a trainer, workout partner, etc. The person being stretched allows the trainer to move the body part being stretched to gain greater range of motion. Passive stretching is used to increase flexibility at the extremes range of motion, as in gymnastics, ice skating, and martial arts where maximum flexibility is required for performance. 

Active stretching is when that the stretcher is doing the work instead of having a trainer or workout partner assist them. Active stretching is generally considered safer than passive stretching because the stretcher controls the force and duration of the stretch. 

PNF Stretching
PNF (Proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation) are stretching techniques that are done passively or as active assisted stretches. The two main types of PNF stretching are hold-relax and contract-relax. 

Hold-relax is very beneficial when the range of motion is extremely limited or if active movement is not available because of muscle weakness, pain, or injuries.

Example: The stretcher holds his or her limb at its lengthened range of motion and isometrically resists a trainer’s attempt to move the limb into a deeper stretch of the target muscle. The stretcher then relaxes and the target muscle will actively lengthen. 

This type of stretching technique combines isotonic and isometric methods. A trainer moves the limb of the stretcher passively to the point of limitation. He then instructs the stretcher to try to move his limb against his resistance. The trainer resists but allows the movement of the limb. After several rounds of this method, the stretcher will have a greater range of motion for that particular target muscle. 

Facilitated Stretching Sequence
Facilitated stretching is active-assisted stretching that uses both active motion and isometric methods to improve flexibility.

1. Actively lengthens the target muscle.

2. Isometrically contracts the target muscle.

3. Actively lengthens the target muscle again.

Recommendations for safely increasing and improving your joint flexibility 

  • Know your body’s anatomy, its limitations, and any past injuries.
  • Learn the correct way to stretch through research or hiring a professional trainer.
  • Always warm up before attempting any stretching. 
    Once a muscle is warmed up, it will be easier for the muscle to be stretched. The majority of all stretching should be done after an activity is completed. 
  • Always stretch one muscle group at a time.
    When performing your flexibility program, never try to overstretch or force the muscle to stretch beyond its natural range of motion. 
  • Stretching can be done anytime you feel the need to stretch.
    This can take place before, during, and after your golf game. 
  • A consistent stretching program will not only add distance to your golf game, it will also help in preventing injuries. 
  • To get some specific help and a personalized flexibility program Click Here.  Have a Great Day of Fitness.

    Greg Finch
    A.C.S.M. c.P.T.
    FORM – Training & Fitness

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