Personal trainers, athletes, your friends, and your mom often talk about the importance of flexibility. What is flexibility though?
The best way to described flexibility is the ability to move a joint through its complete range of motion (ROM). Flexibility is dictated by the normal extensiblity of the tissues surround a joint. (Extensibility is the capability of a muscle or joint to be elongated or stretched.)
In more practical terms flexibility is the ability to move your body in a more complete range of motion, without injuring your joints or muscles. Factors that affect flexibility include;
- Your age
- Being Male or Female
- General physical activity level
- Genetics (yeah some people are just lucky)
- Connective tissue elasticity
- Your joint structure
- Opposing muscle groups stregnth
- Body composition (ie being obese)
- Previous physical injuries or some other medical issue
- Pattern overload (repetitive movements)
If you have optimal control of your range of motion (ROM) along with your nervous system, this type of flexibility is known as dynamic range of motion. This mean being able to control and move your body even while doing difficult stretches.
You have probably experienced stretching your body a little too much and injuring yourself. Some studies have shown that poor flexibility can lead to a higher risk of injury.
Good flexibility can take years to learn and is something that I myself am I still working on to this day.
Proper flexibility training would include several different approaches and would integrate the soft tissues in all three planes of motion. In addition to using the nervous system's ability to use correct muscles (agonists, antagonists, synergists and stabilizers) to reduce force (eccentrically) or produce force (concentrically).
Flexibility can include static stretching, dynamic stretching, and active stretching.
What are your experiences with flexibility? Do you feel that your stretching routine increases flexibility? have you gotten hurt from not being flexible enough?