FLEXIBILITY

By Sarah Singarella

WHAT IS FLEXIBILITY?

The range of movement or mobility that a limb has around its joint, and reflects the ability of the muscled and connective tissues to stretch. There are two types of flexibility:

- Static flexibility; Refers to a joints range of motion under stationary conditions.

- Dynamic flexibility; Refers to the resistance to motion in a joint.

FACTORS THAT AFFECT FLEXIBILITY -

- The type of joint and the joint capsule (main factor) e.g. ball and socket joint has greater range than a hinge joint

- The elasticity of the muscles, ligaments and tendons

- Resting length of the muscles

- Body build (Excessive fat or muscle can reduce mobility)

- Sex (Females are generally more flexible than males)

- Age (Flexibility decreases with age

RECOGNISED FLEXIBILITY TESTS -

- Sit-and-reach:

Method; Sit with legs fully extended and the bottom of your feet against the sit-and-reach box. Gradually reach forwards, sliding your fingers along the ruler, and hold the final position for two seconds. Measure and record the final number in centimetres.

Norms (in centimetres) for women;

RATING - WOMEN

Poor <5

Fair 6-9

Average 10-12

Good 13-16

Excellent >16

- Shoulder rotation test:

Method; Hold one end of a rope with your left hand and a few centimetres away, hold the rope with your right hand. Extend both arms in front of your chest and rotate them over your head. As resistance is met, slide the right hand further from the left along the rop euntil it can be lowered against your back. Measure distance between fists as the hold the rope. Then measure your shoulder width from deltoid to deltoid and subract this from your best trial score.

RESULT = BEST SCORE - SHOULDER WIDTH

Norms;

Excellent <12.7

Good 12.7-25

Average 25.1-33

Fair 33.1-45.1

Poor >45.1

FLEXIBILITY TRAINING METHODS -

Flexibility training;

Improved flexibility will:

- Improve sporting performance through enhancing developments in speed, strength and power

- Reduce the likelihood of u=injury, particularly for performers who require a full range of motion in their sporting pursuits

- Improve posture

- Reduce the impact of DOMS

- Releases stress and tension

To maximize gains, flexibility training should always be performed when the body has warmed up. The end of a workout is a convenient opportunity to being a flexibility program. However, flexibility training can also be done independently, but is often performed with a partner.

There are three recognised methods of flexibility (or stretching):

- Static stretching;

Static stretching occurs when a person stretches to a position and holds it for 10 seconds or more. A common example of static stretching is the seated hamstring stretch (input image). Static stretching should not be performed during a warm-up prior to other activities as it may increase the risk of injury. This type of stretching is most appropriate at the end of a training session or as an independent training method.

- Dynamic and ballistic stretching;

Dynamic stretching involves moving a joint through its range of motion with controlled momentum. Dynamic stretching is ideal as part of a warm-up and should mimic some of the movements that are about to be performed. A classic example of this is a footballer gently kicking his legs up to simulate kicking a football (input pic of tiger player).

Ballistic stretching involves performing the same movements as dynamic stretching, but with much greater force. This could potentially be dangerous for most performers as the increased momentum may lead to muscle strain, so therefore ballistic stretching is appropriate only in limited circumstances such as ballet dancers who have spent years preparing their bodies for these types of movements. (PHOTO)