Sunday, November 13, 2016
Flexibility: Why is it Important?
Flexibility is an important component of fitness, if not the most important and basis or all other components. It is the capacity of a muscle or joint to move through its full range of motion. Range of motion is the distance and direction that joints are able to move.1 Flexibility is highly important when discussing injury prevention. When the muscle or joint is stretched through its full range of motion, the body will respond to stress more rapidly and will be able to guard or prevent injuries from occurring. Flexibility has been studied for many years and has proven to be effective in various ways.
There are many benefits of increasing one’s flexibility. It reduces stress in the exercising muscles and releases tension developed during the workout. It also assists with posture by balancing tension in various sections of the muscle. Proper posture minimizes stress and maximizes the strength of all joint movements. Flexibility also reduces the risk of injury during exercise because muscles are more pliable and able to react to stress more quickly. Lastly, it improves performance of everyday activities as well as performance in exercise and sport.1 This is done so by applying training techniques.
There are three main flexibility training techniques; static stretch, dynamic stretch, and ballistic stretch. Static stretch is a stretch of a limb that is held in a challenging, slightly uncomfortable position for over 15 to 30 seconds. A static stretch may be used prior or following physical activity and requires less effort than dynamic stretching. Dynamic stretch are controlled, continuous movements that brings the muscles close to their limits without causing injury. This type of stretch is beneficial more for athletes and sportive events. Lastly, ballistic stretching is considered the most dangerous and rarely used type of stretch to increase flexibility. Ballistic is a form of passive, bouncing, and quick motions.2 It is only used by expertise that have background knowledge and utilize the technique properly. All three, static, dynamic, and ballistic stretching are ways to help increase flexibility. There are also other ways to increase one’s flexibility. Exercise classes such as Yoga and Pilates are two effective, evidence-based classes that aids in flexibility as well as mind-body connections.
Flexibility has been studied over many years. It has been proven to be beneficial in order to prevent injuries as well as the many benefits listed above. It provides more freedom of movement for all physical and daily activities.
1Marsh, H. W., & Sutherland Redmayne, R. (1994). A multidimensional physical self-concept and its relations to multiple components of physical fitness. Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology, 16, 43-43.
2THQDAY, J. (1953). Components of fitness.