Flexibility is a key component of physical fitness. It is defined as the range of motion possible around a joint (such as the shoulder), or around a series of joints (such as spines). This range of motion is dependent on the extensibility of the soft tissues (e.g. muscles, tendons) around the joint itself) Alter, 1996 ) Flexibility is joint and joint-action specific, which means that you may be flexible in one join but not in another. It is also possible to flexible in one position and not in another; hip external rotation, but not in hip extension.
Benefits of Flexibility Training Decreased risk of injury Decreased chronic muscle tension
Decreased low-back pain
Improved posture Increased motor performance Decreased Stress
Relief of muscle soreness Increased mind/body connection
Improved ability to perform activities of daily living (increased functional ability)
Maintenance of and improvement in flexibility is especially important for older adults; declining flexibility coupled with reduced muscle mass and decreased muscle strength and endurance can result in less independence and loss of function. Stretching exercises have shown to increase flexibility even as age increases (Feland, Myrer, Schulthies, Fellingham, & Meason, 2001)
Static Stretching is characterized by low-intensity, long-duration muscle elongation, ideally in a supported position that allows the muscle fibers to relax. Static, stretching has been shown to help provide relief from delayed onset muscle soreness and to have a much lower risk of injury. Static stretching is the most commonly recommended method of stretching, and is safe, effective, and appropriate for almost all clients. Studies disagree on the exact length of time a static stretch should be held, but the general recommendation is to hold a stretch at least 15 seconds and progress toward a duration of 30 seconds or more. (American College of Sports Medicine, 2006b). (Aerobics and Fitness Association of America)
A student shared a recent article with me from the Washington Post, written by Marlene Cimons
The Truth About Stretching
It’s official! After considering hundreds of studies, researchers concluded that a mixed warm up-static stretching along with dynamic stretching-was the optimal approach.
So glad this subject is being addressed. There have been several conversations over the years with valid opinions on both sides of the discussions.
The argument for stretching is a valid argument, the different opinions are basically correct. Yes you can get hurt when the muscle is cold if you try to stretch. You also risk injury when you jump into a workout without warming up the muscle, especially if the workout is vigorous.
In my experience, it much more vital to the health of your body to do a small amount of stretching before vigours work, especially if you are over 50 years of age. You still save the more intense version of stretching after the workout, and if you can you will want to have at least 15 mins of post workout stretching if you have the time. Otherwise, you should enroll in a stretch class that is solely dedicated to stretching. Read the article in full….here