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What Is Flexibility Training

"What Is Flexibility Training..?"

Flexibility training refers to any exercise method that helps the joints and all connective tissues achieve a more useful range of motion over time.

A flexible joint has the ability to move through a greater range of motion and requires less energy to do so, while greatly decreasing your risk of injury. Before undergoing any type of flexibility training, it is important to speak with a doctor or another trained practitioner. Stretching is probably the most neglected of all the components of a strength and or fitness program – not because it is difficult, but because many people perceive that unless they're getting hot and sweaty, they're not actually making any fitness gains.

Flexibility exercises can mean the difference between success and failure, and also the difference between safety and injury.

If you've previously omitted stretching from your workouts or you just want to know the hows, whys and whens of safe stretching, then the following guide will answer your questions.

There are many benefits to flexibility training. Some of the benefits are listed below:

•Improved Physical Performance
A flexible joint has the ability to move through a greater range of motion and requires less energy to do so, while greatly decreasing your risk of injury.

•Decreased Risk of Injury
Stretching decreases resistance in tissue structures. Decreased resistance in tissue structure will decrease your chances of being injured by exceeding tissue extensibility.

•Reduced Muscle Soreness
As you become more flexible through static stretching, the amount of muscle soreness you experience after exercise will decrease. Static stretching involves a slow, gradual and controlled elongation of the muscle through the full range of motion and held for 15-30 seconds in the furthest comfortable position.

•Improved Posture
Stretching improves muscular balance and posture. Stretching can help realign soft tissue structures and reducing the effort it takes to achieve and maintain good posture in the activities of daily living.

•Increased Blood and Nutrients to Tissues
Stretching increases tissue temperature, which increases circulation and nutrient transport. Increased circulation and nutrient transport allows greater elasticity of surrounding tissues and increases performance.

Including flexibility training in your workouts is extremely important to counteract the three primary factors that are responsible for tight, inflexible muscles. These are:

1. The aging process. As we age, our bodies tend to dehydrate – plus the structures of our tissues will change, making our muscles less supple.

2. The very act of training itself. When a muscle is exercised and develops, over time it will become tighter – and therefore its flexibility will decrease.

3. Lifestyle postural problems. Sedentary lifestyles – including long hours spent seated while working at computers, watching TV and/or driving – contribute to the development of poor posture, whereby some muscles become overstretched or less flexible.

The purpose of regular stretching is to maintain or improve your flexibility so that you get full mobility and a complete range of movement for each muscle.

Different types of flexibility training exercises. There are three types of flexibility exercise:

1. Static stretching. This technique is mainly used to maintain flexibility, and involves moving into the stretch position and holding it without any movement. It is important to avoid ‘bouncing’ when stretching because it could overstretch the muscle and lead to a pull or tear. Instead, gently lean into the stretch until you feel a slight tightness in the muscle or muscle group. Maintain a relaxed breathing pattern, which will help you get the most out of your stretch, and then ease a fraction further into the specific stretch position after about 15 seconds. This ‘extra’ movement is possible because after 15 seconds your body’s natural ‘protective stretch inhibiter’ will have switched off, enabling you to get a little more from your stretch.

2. Dynamic stretching. This involves gradually increasing the range of movement of the muscle which is under control – for example, swinging your leg backwards and forwards, and moving it increasingly higher and further back to extend its range of movement. Dynamic stretching is often used as a warming-up technique to increase mobility.

3. Developmental stretching. With a developmental stretch, you are looking to improve the flexibility of a tight muscle or muscle group. Developmental stretching is a specialist flexibility technique and usually needs to be executed with the assistance of an exercise partner or trainer. The other person can hold your affected limb in position and carefully extend the range of movement under control, while getting feedback about any feelings of tightness or discomfort.

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