Example of flexibility exercise.
Flexibility training is defined as performing exercises that cause lengthening of the musculotendinous unit to improve neuromuscular control, joint stability and optimize physical performance. However, the concept of flexibility training is often confused with static stretching.
Dynamic or active flexibility training involves moving joints through a specific range of motion (ROM) against an external resistance, also known as proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation (PNF).
The aim is to stretch themselves and their and their associated tendons. Many factors may affect flexibility gains using this type of protocol, for example, intensity and volume of training, duration of time under tension, age, and gender.
On the other hand, Static stretching is the most common type of stretching, which entails holding a stretch for some time (30 seconds to 2 minutes) without movement. Static stretching is often used to cool down following muscular activity and effectively reduces muscle soreness.
The effectiveness of dynamic or active flexibility training compared to static stretching is still inconclusive. A study by Yamaguchi et al. (2007) showed no significant differences between the two methods regarding ROM or joint laxity. However, they did find that dynamic stretching was more effective than static stretching in improving hamstring flexibility in young males.
In contrast, another study by Behm and Chaouachi (2011) found that static stretching was more effective than dynamic stretching in increasing ROM and that the beneficial effects of static and dynamic stretching were maintained for up to 45 minutes post-stretching.
This could be explained by the fact that this study used a constant load intensity (70% of maximum voluntary contraction) throughout both protocols. In contrast, Yamaguchi et al. implemented different powers, 40%, 50%, and 60%.
Additionally, it is essential to note that Behm and Chaouachi’s subjects were endurance athletes instead of those utilized in Yamaguchi et al.’s study who were young males with no prior flexibility training experience. It seems evident from many studies that both types of stretching can increase flexibility.
However, there appears to be a positive response to one or the other depending on the population used as a model. In professional athletes, active flexibility training is likely to be more beneficial for increasing ROM, maintaining functional performance during competition, and reducing injury risk.
On the other hand, static stretching has more excellent application for general populations at risk of muscle or tendon injuries that require increased ROM for pain relief or return to full function following an injury.
Nevertheless, it should be noted that there are both contraindications and precautions for using dynamic stretching to prevent injury. For example, dynamic stretching should not be performed immediately before or after muscular activity, ing, leading, leading to joint instability and subsequent injuries.
It is also essential to ensure that the exercises are completed within a pain-free range and that the intensity is gradually increased to prevent overload injuries.
As with any exercise, it is always essential to consult a health professional to increase both static and dynamic stretching gradually. This can effectively increase flexibility; however, the most appropriate type of stretching depends on the population being studied.
Active flexibility training is probably more beneficial for professional athletes in increasing ROM and maintaining function during competition. In contrast, static stretching may be more useful for general populations at risk of injury that requires increased ROM for pain relief or return to full function following an injury.
Practical application of flexibility training in the elite athlete is vital for maintaining performance, preventing injuries, and optimizing health. The most appropriate type of stretching can be determined by considering specific joint action and the population being studied.
What are the Three exercises for flexibility?
Table of Contents
1. Static Stretch – The hamstring stretch is a static stretch that targets the hamstrings muscle group located at the back of the thigh. Assume an upright kneeling position with one leg forward and one leg back to perform this exercise.
Slowly lower your torso towards the ground while keeping your back upright, and your eyes focused ahead. Hold the stretch for 15 to 30 seconds, relax, and repeat two more times on each leg.
2. Dynamic Stretch – The lunge matrix is an example of a dynamic stretch that targets several muscles at once, including the quadriceps, hip adductors, hip abductors, iliotibial band (IT band), hamstrings, gluteal muscles, plantar fascia, and calf muscles. Start by standing tall with your feet together and arms extended out in front of you at shoulder height.
Take a significant step forward with your right foot so that your legs are staggered with the left leg slightly behind the right.. Keeping an upright torso position, extend both arms up overhead as you bend your front knee, keeping it directly above the ankle of the front leg. Slowly drop your torso towards the ground by bending at both the hips and knees.
3. Assisted Stretch – The standing quadriceps stretch is an example of a space requiring another person’s assistance to achieve maximal muscle elongation. Assume an upright kneeling position with one leg forward and one leg back to perform this exercise.
Keep your back straight and maintain a slight bend in your forward knee as you reach down towards that foot with both hands and pull slightly until you feel a moderate stretch at the front of your thigh (quadriceps). Hold for 15 to 30 seconds, relax, and repeat two more times on each leg (4 reps total).