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Flexibility

Flexibility by Andrew Finn

Definition – The range of movement that a muscle has before it reaches end range, or the ability to move muscles and joints through their full range of motion.
Stretching Categories;

Static – The range of motion about a joint with no emphasis on speed. It inherently lengthens muscle tissue to its furthest pointand strives to increse length by the end of the range, this can be held for 30 seconds and repeasted several times.

Ballistic – Associated with a bobbing, bouncing, rebounding and rythmic motion. Mainly used by athletes in their desired sport involves ballistic actions

Dynamic – The ability to use the range of joint movement in a performance of physical activity. This type is a promoted and preffered over other types of stretching for the preparatory stage of exercise or sporting event.

Passive – The delivery of force from either trainer/partner/machine to perform the stretch, this can be held (static) or moving (dynamic).

Active – The range of motion accomplished by the voluntary use of your muscles without assistance. Active flexibilty can be either static or dynamic.

Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation (PNF) Stretching -This is a method of promoting the neuromuscular mechsanisms through stimulation of proprioceptors. It uses different types of muscle contractions techniques to gain further ROM, PNF is generally done passively to achieve the the freatest results.

How flexible do you really need to be?
You need to be as flexible as what your lifestyle dictates. Recent studies have shown many benefits to stretching to aid flexibilty. After the obvious reasons of why to stretch (Increased ROM, reduced muscle tension and enhanced posture) such studies have shown improved blood flow and this can prevent a host of illnesses from diabetes to kidney stones.

When to stretch/How to Stretch
Stretching can be done at any available time, to get the most out of your stretching you should make sure that muscles are warm. Slowly move into the stretch posistion to reduce chances of the stretch reflex. Stretch to the point of tension, not pain. Avoid bouncing hold the stretch between 10-30seconds and slowly increase the stretch. Always remeber to breathe when stretching.

Sensory Organs; The Golgi Tendon Organ & Muscle Spindle
For the Central Nervous System (CNS) to control bodily movements it has to recieve constant sensory information about the muscles actions. The sensory organs are proving information such as; muscle length, posistions muscles are in and force the muscles are producing, this information is been sent to CNS via a sensory nerve within the muscle. A motor nerve then sends impulses back from the CNS to the muscle that needs to be activated.

Muscle Spindle – Is located parallel to muscle fibres in the muscle belly, it also measures the length of the muscle and the rate of lengthening, when stretched to maximum capacity the muscle spindle sends impulses to the CNS that then sends information to start a muscle contraction, which protects the muscle from over stretching or even tearing. When holding a stretch you are aiming to stretch the muscle spindle as this grows and will allwo you to stretch further, gradually you can train the stretch receptors to allow the greater lengthening of the muscles.

Golgi Tendon Organ – This is located in the musculotendinous junction (where muscle connects to the tendon) and monitors the level of tension within the tendon, the tension is coming from the muscle contraction or the passive stretching. If the tension appears to be too much the GTO reports back to the CNS by sending impulses. The impulses from the GTO inhibits the frequency of the impulse been sent by the motor nerve, which then decreses the tension.

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