This may be a bit of a stretch………..
The single most neglected component of fitness is??????????? You guessed it, Stretching!
Let’s start by defining a few important terms related to stretching. Flexibility=is a measure of Range of Motion (ROM) and has static and dynamic components. Range of Motion=the degree of movement that occurs at a joint.
Having a “complete fitness program” should clearly include flexibility training. Everyone can benefit from increasing their flexibility. For example, if you have had back issues due to a tight low back you may benefit from not only stretching your lower back, but from also stretching your hamstrings. As they are all connected. Furthermore, an athlete may benefit by increasing his/her flexibility to allow for a greater ROM to meet the demands of a particular sport and decreasing the likelihood of injury.
One important note to remember here: There is an ideal level of flexibility for sports and for day to day activities. Both inflexibility and hyperflexibility can put an invidual at an increased risk for injury.
The National Strength and Conditioning Association defines four major types of stretching :
Static stretching=is performed by slowly stretching the muscle and holding for a pre-determined amount of time. Most literature reccomends 10-30 seconds per stretch.
Dynamic Stretch-(generally reserved for athletes)= uses sport specific movements to prepare the body for activity.
Ballistic Stretching=typically involves active muscular effort and it uses a bouncing type movement in which the end position is not held. This can be an aggressive stretching protocol and should be used with caution, especially if you have or have had injuries.
Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation (PNF)= PNF uses both passive and active muscle actions. This too is a very aggressive stretching protocol. PNF generally requires a partner and a high level of expertise to perform. When performed correctly, PNF stretching may prove superior to other methods of stretching.
When starting an exercise program, make sure your trainer is incorporating a stretching protocol that is best suited to meet your individual needs. Stretching provides benefits that include: Increased range of motion, decreased risk of injury, and if an injury does occur, stretching increases blood flow to a muscle which may aide in healing the injury, and strecthing may also provide stress relief. Keep in mind that there are factors that may affect flexibility. Factors may include but are not limited to: age, sex, joint structure, disease, muscle bulk, over-weight, and activity level.
I will end with a compliment to Olly Pierce and Brit’s Brothers gym. I have been in the fitness industry as a Coach, Educator, and Trainer for 19 years. Olly has implemented one of the most comprehensive training programs I have witnessed and been a part of . Committment to the overall well being of others starts at the top.
Hope this helps! Train well!