Flexibility is key in maintaining mobility. Each joint in the body has a specific range of motion that can only be maintained and/or improved through flexibility of the muscles that surround each specific joint. Starting a flexibility program is just as important as doing cardio or strength training programs. Increasing flexibility within the body decreases risk of injury and can fix and or prevent postural dysfunction.
Types of Flexibility
|Corrective||Foam Roll & Static Stretching|
|Active||Foam Roll & Active Stretching|
|Functional||Foam Roll & Dynamic Stretching|
Foam rolling is a form of stretching called neuromuscular stretching, which corrects the layer that surrounds the muscle called fascia. Foam rolling can be painful at first but the more you do it, the easier it becomes. The initial pain felt during foam rolling comes from the fascia being “tight”. Over time, if the fascia is not stretched, it will form “knots” and lose its natural flexibility. Foam rolling corrects the fascia by breaking up knots and ultimately helps to restore its flexibility.
- Roll on the muscle until you feel pain
- Once pain is felt, hold the position for 20-30 seconds
- Once the pain eases, search for new “knots” in common areas
- Common areas: Back, Legs (IT Band, Hamstrings, Quads, Glutes, Calves)
One of the safest and most effective ways to increase flexibility. Static stretching is the most common form of stretching, which is done by holding the muscle in a fixed place.
- Hold each muscle for 20-30 seconds
- Should feel slight discomfort
- Repeat for all muscle groups
The difference between a good athlete and a great athlete often does not come down to skill, but the rather the “little” things such as balance and flexibility. An athlete has to be able to move his or her body in positions that can only be done with balance, strength and flexibility. Athletes should take part in all forms of flexibility; neuromuscular, corrective, active and dynamic to increase success and decrease risk of injury.
Athletes are often discouraged from doing static stretching routines immediately before sporting events because static stretching can possibly lead to decreased performance. Athletes often perform active stretching and dynamic stretching/warm-ups that mimic the movements specific to their sport. Athletes should consider performing exercises such as the ones list below immediately before sporting events.
- Tuck jumps
- High knees
- Butt kicks
- Leg swings
- Hip rotations
- Walking lunges
- Walking side squats
- Side shuffle
Flexibility is one of the most neglected components of fitness, but is equally important as strength and cardio. Starting a flexibility program will enhance your ability to perform everyday movements while decreasing the risk of injury. Take care of your body and reverse the effects of gravity by increasing your flexibility.