You should do flexibility and stretching exercises every day to help your body feel and perform better. Flexibility is the normal extensibility (capable of being elongated or stretched) of all soft tissues (muscles, ligaments, tendons) that allow the full range of motion of a joint.
Flexibility training integrates various stretches in all three planes of motion to produce maximum extensibility of tissues. You may have to undergo some corrective flexibility training based on your postural assessment or based on previous injuries incurred.
Here are 3 ways you can improve your flexibility:
1. Static Stretches – These stretches are performed without movement. The individual gets into and holds the stretched position for 20-30 seconds. The different types of static stretches are:
c. Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation(PNF)
Static stretches should generally be done after your workout to return your muscles to their normal length. They are also useful if you are in rehabilitation from an injury.
2. Dynamic Stretching – An effective dynamic warmup is a MUST before your workout or game. A dynamic warmup will prepare your body best for practice or games.
Do static stretches after your workout (when muscles are warm) to increase your range of motion.
Accomplish the following during your dynamic warmup:
a. Make sure your “power center” is flexible. Your “power center” consists of the glutes, hips, quadriceps and hamstrings. This area of your body is prone to some hard-to-recover-from injuries!
b. Your hip flexors need to flexible. Tight hip flexors cause many problems, including problems with your glutes and hamstrings.
c. When you warmup, practice relaxing your face, shoulders, arms and torso. You will perform better when you are relaxed and you want your body to work like a “well oiled machine.”
Some good dynamic warmup exercises are back pedals, lunges, step ups, cariocas, form running, medicine ball exercises, shuffles and jump rope.
3. Massages – Massages will help your body perform better.
a. Sports massages are a must for women who exercise regularly. Typically, lifting weights, training with medicine balls, increasing speed, etc. are thought of immediately as ways to improve performance.
Sports massage is also an important tool that you can use to help you perform better while exercising. It can be used before, during and after workouts. Stress, tension and adhesions build up in your soft tissues (muscles, skin, tendons, etc.) during intense exercise and overuse.
The benefits of sports massage include improved flexibility, tension release, relieving of swelling, alleviation of fatigue and prevention of injuries.
b. Self Myofascial Release (SMFR) is like getting a massage (self massage). The foam roller is one of the most effective techniques for releasing tension while improving mobility.
Foam rolling exercises will release and organize your muscles, as well as release and align your skeletal system. Muscle injuries such as strains and tears and broken bones can be avoided with proper flexibility and skeletal alignment.
Keep your body flexible all year to perform better during workouts and avoid injuries.
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Mark Dilworth, BA, PES
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