Flexibility Training

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  • Flexibility Training
    • Static Stretching
      • Involves lengthening a muscle and connective tissue just beyond the point of resistance and holding for approximately 10-20 seconds.
        • As the stretch reflex subsides after approximately 5-6 seconds, connective tissues around the joint are lengthened.
          • Each stretch will be repeated 3-6 times.
      • Considered the safest and simplest method.
        • Although adaptations are slow, it is effective in increasing the ROM about a joint.
      • Active Stretching
        • The performer themselves moves the joint into its stretched position without ant external force or assistance.
          • They will contract the agonist muscle to hold position and stretch the antagonist pair.
      • Passive Stretching
        • The performer moves the joint into its stretched position with assistance, the aid of a partner or apparatus to help move the joint just beyond the point of resistance.
    • Isometric Stretching
      • Involves isometrically contracting the muscles while holding a stretched position.
        • With the use of assistance, a partner or apparatus, the performer will move into a static passive stretch.
          • Isometrically contract the muscles for 7-20 seconds and then relax for at least 20 seconds.
      • It overcomes the stretch reflex and creates a greater stretch in both resting and already stretched fibres.
      • This is a fast and effective way to develop increased static passive flexibility while decreasing the amount of pain associated with stretching routines.
        • It will also develop strength in the 'tensed' muscles to increase static active flexibility.
        • However, it carries a higher risk of damaging tendons and connective tissue so should be avoided by under 16s.
    • Ballistic Stretching
      • Involves swinging or bouncing movements such as explosive arm swings or high leg kicks.
        • These exercises use momentum to force the joint through its extreme range of motion.
          • By bouncing into position, the lengthened muscles are used as a spring, which pulls the performer out of the stretched position.
      • Ballistic stretching should only be used by people who are already flexible and take part in ballistic or explosive-type activities.
      • It is most suited to preparing the muscles and connective tissue for rapid movement and can improve subsequent sped and power.
        • However, there is a greaer risk of injury and there is not sufficient time in the stretched position for the tissues to adapt.
          • It may even cause them to tighten by repeatedly activating the stretch reflex.
    • Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation (PNF)
      • A stretching technique to desensitise the stretch reflex, whereby a performer completes a static passive stretch, isometrically contracts the agonist, relaxes and then stretches further.
      • PNF is effective and shows faster gains in flexibility.
        • It aids muscle relaxation and may cause a decrease in subsequent speed or power.
          • However, it can be used to develop range of motion around joints for those with poor flexibility.
            • This technique can be uncomfortable for the performer and is more complex than other methods.
      • It follows the three-step 'static, contract, relax' process:
        • 1. STATIC. With assistance from a partner, a limb is moved just past the point of resistance and held.
          • 2. CONTRACT. The agonist muscle isometrically contracts against resistance (partner) for 6-10 seconds.
            • 3. RELAX. The muscle relaxes and the limb can be moved further into the stretched position.
        • This process will be repeated three times and, with time, muscle spindles adapt to an increased length, delaying the stretch reflex
    • Dynamic Stretching
      • Involves taking a joint through its full range of motion with control over the entry and exit of the stretch
      • It is a more controlled form of ballistic stretching that does not go to the extreme end point of motion.
        • Therefore, there is less risk of injury while still preparing the connective tissues for dynamic movement.
      • Usually, exercises are performed in sets of 8-12 reps as part of a warm up, improving subsequent speed and power.
    • Adaptations
      • Following a specific flexibility training programme 3-6 times per week for at least six weeks will cause significant structural changes in the muscle and connective tissue.
        • This will increase the body's capacity to produce fast and powerful muscular contractions while maximising technique and aesthetics.
      • Increasing resting length
        • Increased range of motion about a joint
          • Muscle spindles adapt to increased length, reducing the stretch reflex stimulus.
      • Increased elasticity
        • Increased potential for static and dynamic flexibility
          • Decreased inhibition from the antagonist.
          • Increased stretch of the antagonist.
      • Overall
        • Increased range of motion about a joint.
          • Decreased risk of injury during dynamic movements
          • Increased distance and efficiency for muscles to create force at speed.
          • Improved posture and alignment


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