Flexibility is the lengthening of muscles allowing full range of motion within a joint, or series of joints. Achieving optimal flexibility is essential in helping to prevent injury, improve stamina, and achieve optimal strength. The progression to flexibility is static to dynamic.
American College of Sports Medicine Flexibility Exercise Recommendations
Frequency: Improving range of motion in joints, >= 2-3 days/wk
Intensity: Stretch to the feeling of slight discomfort, or tightness. (DO NOT BOUNCE – Take it slow and steady)
Time: Static stretching: 30-60 seconds. PNF stretching: 3-6 seconds of voluntary contraction, followed by 10-30 seconds of assisted stretch.
Type: Combination of static flexibility (active or passive), ballistic flexibility, or dynamic flexibility.
Volume: Adequate total time of 60 seconds per exercise.
Repetitions: 2 to 4 times per exercise
NOTE: Achieving the most effective flexibility occurs when the muscle is warmed up either through external methods such as heat pads or hot baths, or through a light to moderate aerobic activity.
4 Types of Stretching
- Self Myofascial Release: Applying gentle pressure to muscle adhesions in the same spot for a minimum of 20 to 30 seconds causing the muscle to relax. Using foam rollers, or round balls of various densities are applicable. Recommended to be performed first before transitioning to a static or dynamic stretch, as well as after a workout.
- Static Stretching: Passively taking a muscle to the point of tightness or discomfort and holding that position for a minimum of 20 seconds. Typically performed after completing a workout.
- Active Isolated Stretching: Dynamically contracting one muscle group for 1-2 seconds, resulting in the opposing muscle group to relax and lengthen. Typically 5-10 repetitions.
- Dynamic Stretching: Actively propelling a muscle using the body’s momentum to extend range of motion in a joint. Typically performed in sets of repetitions, used as pre-activity warm up.