The overload and specificity of training principles also apply to development of muscular flexibility. To increase the total range of motion (ROM) of a joint, the specific muscles surrounding that joint have to be stretched progressively beyond their accustomed length. The principles of MODE, INTENSITY, REPETITIONS and FREQUENCY of exercise also can be applied to flexibility programs. 1.MODE OF EXERCISE
* BALLISTIC STRETCHING
Ballistic stretching is a form of passive stretching or dynamic stretching in a bouncing motion. Ballistic stretches force the limb into an extended range of motion when the muscle has not relaxed enough to enter it. It involves fast, "jerky" movements where a double bounce is performed at the end range of movement. Examples: An example of ballistic stretching is bouncing up and down repeatedly to touch your toes. * SLOW-SUSTAINED STRETCHING
Proper stretching involves a slow-sustained “hold” of the muscle. The muscles are lengthened slowly and through the joint's full range of motion and are held there 10 seconds. This type of stretch causes little pain and a low risk for injury. Hold the muscle to a point of tension for 10 seconds then relax it. This stretch should be repeated 3-4 times to get maximum results. With each successive stretch, you will find that you can increase the range of motion of the joint. A stretch needs to be held for 10 seconds to allow the muscle to “realize” that it has experienced a change and begin to relax. Static stretching is preferable to ballistic stretching because: •In ballistic movement, there is a danger of exceeding the extensibility limits of involved tissue, thereby causing injury. •Static stretching promotes muscle relaxation by reducing sensory activity and muscle spindle tension. •Ballistic stretching tends to elicit pain and soreness both during and after exercise. •Static stretching is just as effective as ballistic stretching in producing gains in range of motion. •Ballistic stretching elicits the stretch reflex, which contracts the muscle. SO DON'T BOUNCE--JUST "HANG" AND RELAX IN A STRETCHED POSITION.
PROPRIOCEPTIVE NEUROMUSCULAR FACILITATION STRETCHING (PNF)
PNF stretching is currently the fastest and most effective way known to increase static-passive flexibility. It is a more advanced form of flexibility training that involves both the stretching and contraction of the muscle group being targeted. PNF techniques can be both passive (no associated muscular contraction) or active (voluntary muscle contraction). While there are several variations of PNF stretching, they all have one thing in common - they facilitate muscular inhibition. It is believed that this is why PNF is superior to other forms of flexibility training. 2.INTENSITY OF EXERCISE
The intensity, or degree of stretch, when doing flexibility exercises should be only to a point of mild discomfort. Pain does not have to be part of the stretching routine. Excessive pain is an indication that the load is too high and may lead to injury.
All stretching should be done to slightly below the pain threshold. As participants reach this point, they should try to relax the muscle being stretched as much as possible. After completing the stretch, the body part is brought back gradually to the starting point.
The time required for an exercise session for development of flexibility is based on the number of repetitions performed and the length of time each repetition (final stretched position) is held. The general recommendation is that each exercise be done 4 or 5 times, holding the final position each time for about 10 – 20 seconds.
As flexibility increases, a person can gradually increase the time each repetition is held, to a maximum of 1 minute. Individuals who are susceptible to flexibility injuries should limit each stretch to 20 seconds. 4.FREQUENCY OF EXERCISE
In the early stages of the program,...