Flexibility Training For Sports And Fitness

To achieve true fitness any exercise programme should include these 3 essential components, namely, strength training, stamina and endurance training and flexibility training. Of these 3 components flexibility training is the most neglected or perhaps completely neglected component. What is flexibility training and what effects does it have on an athlete’s performance?

Whenever we talk about flexibility training, the static stretching exercises that martial artists or gymnasts perform before their actual workouts always come into our minds. But flexibility training does not just refer to those stretching exercises. As we all know, the human body is made up of joints, such as the joints of the neck and spine, the shoulder joints, the elbow joints, the hip joints, the knee joints and the joints of the feet. These joints need to be loose and not tight to enable one to become a more mobile or flexible athlete. Static stretching exercises do loosen up these joints to a certain extent but their main purpose are more on “stretching” the various individual muscle groups, thus making them more “stretchable” and less prone to injury. So from here, we can deduce that flexibility training comes in two forms, namely static stretching exercises and joints loosening up exercises. Some examples of joints loosening up exercises are given below.

Neck Circling Exercise (to loosen up the neck joints):

Stand erect with your feet about a shoulder’s width apart and your hands on your hips. Now rotate your head in a circular fashion from left to back, then to right and finally to the front. Repeat this for the desired number of repetitions and then do it the other way round, for the same number of repetitions i.e. from right to back, then to left and finally to the front.

Shoulder Circling Exercise (to loosen up the shoulder joints):

Stand erect with your feet about a shoulder’s width apart and your arms hanging loosely by your sides. Now without bending your arms raise them up in front of you, then upwards and then press them as far backwards as possible and finally lower them in front by your sides. Repeat this circular motion of your arms for the desired number of repetitions and then do it the other way round, i.e. first by throwing your straight arms as far to your back as possible, then upwards and finally let them drop in front of you by your sides.

Bending Forward and Backward Exercise (to loosen up the shoulder joints, rib cage and the spine):

Stand erect with your feet about a shoulder’s width apart and your arms hanging loosely by your sides. Now without bending your knees, bend forward until your hands touch the floor. From this bent forward position straighten up your upper body while at the same time raising up both your straight arms in front of you and then overhead. When your arms reach the overhead position, bend your upper body and outstretched arms as far to the back as possible. From this bent backwards position, swing both your upper body and outstretched arms back to the front and then down until you are bending forward again with your hands touching the floor. Repeat this bending forward and backward movement for the desired number of repetitions.

Bending Sideways Exercise (to loosen up the shoulder joints, rib cage and the spine):

Stand erect with your feet about a shoulder’s width apart and your straight arms outstretched to your sides. Now without bending your knees or twisting your upper body, bend your upper body with your straight and outstretched arms as far as possible to your left side until your left hand touches your left thigh. Do this movement for the desired number of repetitions and repeat it for the same number of repetitions for your right side.

Trunk Twisting Exercise (to loosen up the neck joints, shoulder joints, rib cage and the spine):

Stand erect with your feet about a shoulder’s width apart and your arms hanging loosely by your sides. Now without bending your knees and your feet firmly planted on the ground, twist your upper body as far to your left as possible. Note that both your arms are flung out horizontally to your left while you are twisting to your left. From this left twisted position twist your upper body now as far as possible to your right – both your arms are also horizontally flung out to your right while you are doing this. Repeat this left and right twisting exercise for the desired number of repetitions.

Trunk Twisting And Rotating Exercise (to loosen up the neck joints, shoulder joints, rib cage and the spine):

Stand erect with your feet about a shoulder’s width apart and your arms hanging loosely by your sides. With your feet firmly planted on the ground, bend forward with your arms hanging down loosely. From this position, gently swing your upper body and arms circularly first to your left, then as far to your back as possible, then to your right and finally back to your front. Repeat this circular rotating trunk exercise for the desired number of repetitions and then reverse the movement for the same number of repetitions.

Hip Rotating Exercise (to loosen up the pelvic joints):

Stand erect with your feet about a shoulder’s width apart and your hands resting on your hips. Now rotate your hips first to your left, then to your front, then to your right, then to your back and finally back to your left. Repeat this circular rotating hip exercise for the desired number of repetitions and then reverse the movement for the same number of repetitions.

Front Leg Raise (to loosen up the pelvic joints):

Stand erect with your feet about a shoulder’s width apart and your arms hanging loosely by your sides. With your knees straight simply lift up your left leg in front as high up as possible as though you are doing a front kick. Repeat this for the desired number of repetitions and then switch legs.

Side Leg Raise (to loosen up the pelvic joints):

Stand erect with your feet about a shoulder’s width apart and your arms hanging loosely by your sides. With your knees straight simply lift up your left leg as high up as possible to your left as though you are doing a left side kick. Repeat this for the desired number of repetitions and then switch legs.

Back Leg Raise (to loosen up the pelvic joints):

Stand erect with your feet about a shoulder’s width apart and your arms hanging loosely by your sides. With your knees straight simply lift up your left leg as high up as possible to your back as though you are doing a back kick. Repeat this for the desired number of repetitions and then switch legs.

Some examples of static stretching exercises which are very popular among gymnasts and martial artists are given below:

Side Split Stretch

With your feet about 3 shoulder’s width apart, slowly bend forward until both your palms are resting on the floor. From this position slowly lower down your upper body until your buttocks come into contact with the floor. Note that while you are lowering down your upper body, both your outstretched legs will be forced to split further and further to the sides – hence the name “side split”.

Side Split Side Bend Stretch

This stretching exercise is a continuation from the side split stretch. After you have achieved a side split, simply bend your upper body sideways to your left until your face touches your left thigh. Be sure to repeat this bending sideways movement on your right side also.

Side Split Front Bend Stretch

This stretching exercise is also a continuation from the side split stretch. After you have achieved a side split, simply bend your upper body forward until your face touches the floor. Both your arms should be outstretched and resting flat on the floor.

Front Split Stretch

With one foot forward and the other backward (about 2 shoulder’s width apart), slowly lower your upper body until your buttocks come into contact with the floor. You can use both your hands to assist you while you are doing this by placing both your palms on the floor. Note that while you are lowering down your upper body, both your feet will be forced to split further and further apart from each other, one to the back and the other to the front – hence the name “front split”. Be sure to alternate the position of the feet when doing this stretching exercise.

Front Split Bend Forward Stretch

This stretching exercise is a continuation from the front split stretch. After you have achieved a front split, simply bend your upper body forward until your face touches your front thigh.

Bend One Leg And Stretch The Other

Begin by squatting down until your buttocks almost touch the floor. From this full squat position, stretch out your right leg to your right and straighten it while your left leg remains bent. Be sure to do this stretching exercise in the reverse direction also – by alternating the stretched out leg and the bent leg.

Apart from the static stretching exercises as described above, Yoga is also a very good programme for flexibility training. There are dozens of yoga stretches and poses and it would be impossible to describe all of them here.

For more information and descriptive graphics about this article, log on to this site:

http://flexibilitytrainingforsportsfitness.blogspot.com/

The author is just an ordinary man. He is not a personal trainer but he happens to be a physical fitness enthusiast and the sports and training methods he practises are weightlifting, powerlifting, bodybuilding, circuit training, interval training, track and field, gymnastics and martial arts.

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Chan_Kheng_Tuan

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