Flexibility training has long been a component of fitness. Fitness includes cardiovascular training, strength training, and flexibility training. Until now, the essence of flexibility training has been characterized as stretching. Stretching was thought to be the foundation of becoming more flexible, but every ballerina, tennis player, golfer or martial artist understands that stretching alone does not increase flexibility. Flexibility is determined by the body’s movement patterns, the muscles attributing and restricting those movements, and the joint composure and connections of the joint structures to allow for movement.
Flexibility training may be as important as strength training and cardiovascular training. All three are the pillars for better health and mobility. Without flexibility, one may not be able to walk, drive a car or even turn one’s head. Think of the daily limitations! We take our mobility and flexibility for granted. But range of motion for each joint is integral to functioning at any level of living, and extreme ranges of motion are necessary for athletics and moving. Hence the idea of incorporating flexibility training into one’s daily life is fundamental.
Flexibility is described as the ability of your joints to move through a full range of motion. Dancers, athletes, martial artists, and yoga practitioners all rely on functional flexibility, which is increased range of motion combined with strength and control for optimal performance. By increasing range of motion, we are increasing the distance our limbs can move and contract. This increases the muscle’s power, therefore increasing athletic ability and control of the muscles. On the other hand, tight or stiff muscles will limit normal range of motion and prevent proper muscle action. These factors greatly increase the chance of becoming injured.
Flexibility training is a simple and effective way to help enhance athletic performance, dance performance, or your overall fitness routine. It can decrease the chance of injury and minimize muscle soreness.
An increased range of motion can be accomplished when flexibility training is applied professionally and routinely over an extended period of time. Do not expect miracles from a flexibility routine. It takes time, dedication, and determination… and it is about more than just stretching.