Types of Flexibility Training and the Specifics of Performance: Sarah Moon
Firstly we need to establish that warming up and flexibility are not the same thing. The aim of warm up stretches primarily is to prevent injury and prepare for movement. Flexibility refers to the range of motion about a joint and flexibility training aims to improve the functional range of movement. All human movement is effected when nerve impulses stimulate a muscle group into action. This action is limited by the range of movement (ROM) the muscles are restricted to, due to the structures within a joint such as the bones, muscles, ligaments, tendons and the overlying skin. Most of these are elastic to a greater or lesser degree and therefore their ability to stretch can be improved with proper flexibility training
<ul><li>Bones of course are not elastic and the flexibility in some joints (e.g. elbow) is limited by the shape of the bones involved and cannot be pushed past a certain point. </li></ul>
<ul><li>There are four different types of flexibility training including dynamic, static, ballistic and Proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation (PNF). The four types of flexibility training can each be suited to different areas and forms of activity. Regularly scheduled stretching programs over 2-5 days per week, for 15-20 minutes per day, will improve flexibility in a few weeks. </li></ul>
Ballistic Flexibility: <ul><li>Ballistic flexibility uses the momentum of a moving body or a limb in an attempt to force it beyond its normal range of motion (ROM). This is stretching by bouncing into (or out of) a stretched position, using the stretched muscles as a spring which pulls you out of the stretched position. (e.g. bouncing down repeatedly to touch your toes.) However ballistic stretching is considered useful only for specific athletes such as hurdlers, track runners and swimmers who perform explosive movements, this is because ballistic stretching can easily lead to injury if it is not done correctly as it does not allow your muscles to adjust to, and relax in, the stretched position. It may instead cause them to tighten up and cause damage through the bouncing action. </li></ul>
Dynamic Flexibility: <ul><li>Dynamic flexibility refers to using the speed of movement, momentum and active muscular effort to bring about a stretch. Unlike static stretching the end position is not held. Dynamic stretching is similar to ballistic stretching except that it avoids bouncing motion and tends to incorporate more sport specific movements. Arm circles, leg lunges (without stopping) and kicking action are all examples of dynamic stretches. Dynamic stretching is useful before competition as it can be shown to reduce muscular tightness. Dynamic stretching can be seen to be useful for most areas of sport especially those such as dancing, soccer, netball etc. </li></ul>
Static Flexibility: <ul><li>Static flexibility involves stretching muscles while the body is at rest. It is composed of various techniques that gradually lengthen a muscle to an elongated position (to the point of discomfort) and hold that position for 10-30 seconds. Static stretching exercises involve specialized tension receptors in our muscles. When done properly, static stretching slightly lessens the sensitivity of tension receptors, which allows the muscle to relax and to be stretched to greater length. There is doubt over the effectiveness of static stretching, with some circles of sport strongly recommending against it (for example: sprinters, hurdlers and track athletes) as static stretching can remove the power from the muscles before an activity </li></ul>
Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation <ul><li>PNF flexibility training is a technique of combining passive stretching and isometric contractions. PNF refers to any of several post-isometric relaxation stretching techniques in which a muscle group is passively stretched, then contracts isometrically against resistance while in the stretched position, and then is passively stretched again through the resulting increased range of motion. PNF stretching usually employs the use of a partner to provide resistance against the isometric contraction and then later to passively take the joint through its increased range of motion. It may be performed, however, without a partner, although it is usually more effective with a partner's assistance. </li></ul>
Benefits of Flexibility Training: <ul><li>Flexibility training increases the joint range of motion (ROM). By increasing this joint range of motion, performance can be enhanced and the risk of injury reduced. The rationale for this is that a limb can move further before an injury occurs. </li></ul>
BIBLIOGRAPHY: <ul><li>Books: </li></ul><ul><li>Browne, S. et al. (2000) PDHPE application and injury, HSC course. Oxford University Press: Melbourne. </li></ul><ul><li>HSC Option 4. improving performance </li></ul><ul><li>Websites: </li></ul><ul><li>Sport fitness advisor.(2008). Flexibility training.http://www.sport-fitness-advisor.com/flexibilitytraining.html Retrieved 5/5/08 </li></ul><ul><li>Flexibility training (no date) http://www.cmcrossroads.com/bradapp/docs/rec/stretching/stretching_4.html. Retrieved 6/5/08 </li></ul><ul><li>Spine universe. (2008). Flexibility training tips http://www. spineuniverse . com/displayarticle .php/article847.html retrieved 5/5/08 </li></ul>
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