For a variety of reasons, stretching and flexibility are synonymous with sports. Stretching is good for the body and helps athletes maintain a healthy range of motion in certain joints.
Stretching can be used to increase your range of motion, and thus your flexibility.
What is flexibility?
Flexibility is the ability to move joints from a flexed to extended position.
The flexibility of a joint is dependent on many factors, including the length and flexibility of the muscles and ligaments as well as the shape and size of the bones and cartilage. Flexibility can be inherited, but can also be acquired by stretching.
Flexibility is an important part of fitness. Exercise tends to increase flexibility in joints. It is important depending on the sport, so it is even more important in some.
For example, cyclists require less hip flexibility than hurdlers, and swimmers need more shoulder mobility than runners.
Stretching and Flexibility Guidelines
If done properly, stretching can bring many benefits. Before you begin any stretching program, make sure to review the following tips.
- Stretch comfortably: Follow the safe stretching guidelines to avoid injury.
- Do static stretching: You hold a stretch for between 30-60 seconds and don’t bounce.
- Stretch after warming up: Research has shown that this is the best way for increasing range of motion. This is especially beneficial for activities that require greater mobility.
- Warm up: before you start your workouts.
- More flexibility is not always better
- Balance is key: To maintain good muscle balance stretch tight muscles and strengthen those that are weak.
- Warm muscles stretch more: Do not over-stretch or stretch cold muscles.
Stretching exercises for the upper body
These stretches can be used to target specific areas on the upper body.
- Standing Forward Bend – Use for your shoulders and hamstrings
- Cat-Cow Stretch : Excellent for the spine
- Spinal Twist
- Hip Stretch and Lower Back
Stretching exercises for the lower body
These stretches can be used to target specific areas in the lower body.
- Lying Hip Flexor Stretch: Techniques and Benefits
- Increase Flexibility with Lower Body Stretches
- 5 Easy Stretches to Strengthen Your Hamstrings at Home
- Standing Lunge Techniques and Benefits
Sporty stretching exercises
These are basic stretching and flexibility routines that athletes can use to improve their performance in a particular sport.
- Best Cycling Routes
- Best Stretches For Golfers
- Best Stretches for Runners
- Best Snowboarding Stretches
- Best Soccer Stretches
stretching and flexibility routines that are specific to injuries
These are some examples of stretching routines that can be used by athletes with specific injuries.
- IT (Iliotibial), Band Pain Stretching Routine
- Back Pain Stretching Routine
- Calf Pull Stretching Method
Different types of stretches
Stretching exercises are a great way to improve flexibility. Static, controlled and slow-paced stretching is the most common form of stretching.
Most people are safe to do static stretches. These stretches involve gentle stretching of the muscles for a period of 10-60 seconds. They are then repeated approximately three times.
Dynamic stretching is another type of stretching. Dynamic stretching is a gradual increase in range of motion and speed with controlled swings (not bounces) that reach the limits.
This type of stretch should not be forced. Dynamic stretching can be described as slow, controlled leg swings or arm swings. The movement can be repeated 10-12 times.
Ballistic stretching employs momentum to push a joint out of its normal range. Bouncing-type stretches, which are more ballistic than dynamic stretching, are designed to force a greater range in motion.
Ballistic stretching should not be done as it can cause injury to muscles, tendons and ligaments.
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