Stretching and Flexibility
Flexibility can vary enormously from one person to another, with women being shown to be generally more flexible than men, particularly after giving birth due to the effects of the hormone relaxin. Setting aside time in your workout especially at the end for proper stretching is often overlooked, although warming down and stretching should be an integral part of a training programme. We’ve all seen people in the gym (sorry guys, but it’s usually men) who perform two or three shoulder shrugs and then they’re off! With just a few minutes, you could not only improve your flexibility, but also go a long way in preventing future injuries. Injuries sustained because of poor flexibility are not only confined to sporting activities, these can happen at home or in the workplace. Bending over to pick up a child or lift heavy bags out of a car can result in injury too. Common lower back problems are often associated with a lack of flexibility in the back and hamstrings, along with weak abdominals.
There are several different methods of stretching, the main ones being:
P.N.F. or Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation
This is when a muscle is taken to the end of its’ normal range and held without bouncing for at least 30 seconds.
This is when another body part or piece of equipment is used to aid the stretch. For example in a lying hamstring stretch the hands or a towel are used behind the thigh or calf.
This is a gradual increase in the range of motion while the limbs are moving i.e. arm circles or leg swings. Dynamic stretching is not to be confused with Ballistic stretching which consists of bouncing, jerky movements. This can be dangerous as the muscles can be forced beyond their normal range of movement.
Dynamic stretching is particularly useful before an aerobic workout and is often used by athletes and martial artists.
Commonly used in injury rehabilitation, this form of stretching involves a static stretch followed by a contraction of the muscle being stretched. This is then relaxed and stretched a little further. P.N.F stretching is only carried out when the muscles are very warm and is best performed by a qualified trainer or therapist.
Your Pure Personal Trainer will use Passive and P.N.F. stretching to carefully improve your flexibility.