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Flexibility And Stretching | Essay

Man's curiosity about flexibility is in no way today's development. The need for flexibility and its own practice is obvious from Roman times in the training of Gladiators, and in more recent times World Battle I accidental injuries spurred the analysis of orthopedics. Specifically, as wounded soldiers returned from war many were affected in basic daily function because of loss of flexibility that occurred from war traumas. It was observed how this limited one's activities and the practice of rebuilding function began. The interest in overall flexibility was heightened again in the 1950s, 60s, and 70s when standardized fitness tests were developed and children were performing poorly on overall flexibility and strength measures. Fast forwarding to today restoration of range of motion is a main aim of therapists when rehabilitating musculoskeletal injuries and it is usually the most limiting factor in restoration from a musculoskeletal personal injury. Beyond that, we now have science to show the increased loss of overall flexibility and muscle function with age which causes loss of freedom and thus the primary goal of many exercise programs is to keep muscular strength and versatility. (Kraus, H. , & Hirschland, R. P. 1954).

But have you ever thought about why some individuals are more adaptable than others? Is it because they expand more, or is it a genetic characteristic? You almost certainly know somebody who is quite flexible but who almost never exercises. Are females more flexible than males? How do you become more adaptable? They are all important questions regarding muscle flexibility. We can effectively answer many of these questions but other answers are less clear. This section provides some insights in to the numerous factors that impact flexibility.

Flexibility is basically described as the total range of motion (ROM) around a joint (or group of joints including the spinal column). Thus the terms overall flexibility and ROM are often used interchangeably. One problem in the literature is the inconsistent use of conditions such as flexibility, stretching, range of motion, and so forth. Many other terms are also related to overall overall flexibility and these conditions along with definitions are shown below in Table 8. 1. In more methodical term, flexibility is defined as the intrinsic property of body cells. However, while both intrinsic and extrinsic factors relate to overall flexibility, the intrinsic component is evidently more important. ROM is highly variable from joint to joint and from person to person. Overall flexibility as a term can be used by many professionals, including durability and conditioning mentors, athletic instructors, physical therapists, doctors, and chiropractors, etc. For this reason there tend to be distinctions in what each practitioner means when they make reference to flexibility. Thus, we must consider the setting up where the term flexibility is being used, like a clinic, running monitor, or training room.

Flexibility is advocated as promoting multiple healthy benefits. In general, flexibility declines with years and damage.

The great things about stretching include:

Decreased risk of low back again pain

Reduced muscle soreness post exercise

Reduced risk of musculoskeletal injury

Increased functional range of motion

Increased comfort in activities of daily living

Improved muscular efficiency

Faster restoration from injury

Improved postural alignment

Improved mobility

Improved self belief with movement

Adapted from Mc Hugh & Gleim (1998)

Alkylosis: - Pathologically low flexibility (may be whole body or joint specific).

Compliance: - How easy the muscle lengthens or extends.

Deformation: - The power of the muscle to change shape (stretch out) and then return to normal.

Elasticity: - The power of a material to avoid deformation from make and then return to normal state.

Flexibility: - The intrinsic property of body tissues that determine ROM without accident.

Hypermobility: - Abnormal joint (or group of joints) ROM.

Stiffness: - A measure of a material's elasticity, often thought as the ration of power to elongation.

Viscoelastic: - Complex mechanical behavior of any materials because the resistive push in the material is dependant on elongation (elastic) and the rate (viscous) at which the pressure is applied.

Yield Point: - the point beyond which deformation becomes long term (or muscle is torn).

Stretch Tip #1 1(see illustrations).

Your dad is thinking about improving his range of motion in his shoulders. Is it possible to suggest 3 basic exercises?

a. Large arm circles. Stand up tall and golf swing both biceps and triceps in large circles forwards and backwards for 10 rotations each.

b. Full arm wall structure press: Stand against a wall structure with your arm right back and up against the wall. Keep your arm from the wall and smoothly turn the body from the wall slightly and hold fro 20 seconds. Duplicate on each part.

c. Lay on your back, put your biceps and triceps out upright, hands overlapping, and place on the ground behind your mind. Keep for 20 seconds

The anatomy and physiology of extending entails multiple components: the look of the musculoskeletal system, muscle composition and connective tissues. Additionally, we must consider other co-contracting and synergistic muscles, the types of muscle activities and the forces produced. Let's look at the role of the components in stretches.

Design of the Musculoskeletal System: The muscles and bone fragments naturally include the musculoskeletal system. The muscles are often viewed as cords mounted on levers to accomplish movement and posture. The muscles draw on the bone fragments generating tension and consequently movement. Bone fragments are linked to bone fragments via ligaments that are not very versatile. The muscles are mounted on the bone via tendons which are more flexible than ligaments, as is the muscle itself. Muscles change in condition and size depending after their role. Generally much longer muscles are usually more flexible with a greater range of motion.

Muscle Composition: While the body contains several types of muscle, such as skeletal, heart and soul, and digestive, their basic structure is the same. That is, the muscle structure is similar in this particular each of them contain fascicles, dietary fiber, myofibrils, sarcomeres, and contractile proteins. In skeletal muscle, a fibrous connective muscle called the epimysium covers your body's more than 430 skeletal muscles. Inside the epimysium the muscle fibres are bound in bundles called fascicles which frequently contain 100-150 materials. Within fascicles, muscle materials are separated by the endomysium. Outside of the fascicles is the perimysium which separates the fascicles wrapped in the epimysium. The muscle fiber content itself is made up of proteins called actin and myosin (contractile proteins) and these protein are arranged longitudinally within the smallest element of the muscle dietary fiber, the sarcomere. It is the sarcomere that truly shortens and lengthens whenever we perform a contraction.

Fascicles: Bundles of muscle fibres.

Fiber: Cylindrical cells that sometimes run the distance of the muscle.

Myofibril: The inside of your muscle fiber that contain the contractile proteins, actin and myosin.

Sarcomere: The smallest contractile unit of skeletal muscle.

Connective Muscle: A main factor influencing ROM is connective muscle. Connective tissue are available all around muscles. Connective structure consists of two types of fibers called collagenous connective structure and elastic connective tissue. Collagenous tissue includes mainly collagen, which can be extracellular, related protein that provide tensile strength. Stretchy tissue comprises mainly elastin, a yellow scleroprotein that delivers elasticity. In general, the greater the quantity of elastic connective structure bordering a joint; the higher the elasticity or ROM will be around that joint.

Muscle Communities: The way in which a muscle group interacts with the other co-contracting muscles in its group can also impact ROM. For example, with knee flexion we've hamstring contractions, gastrocnemius lengthening (or shortening), gluteal shortening, etc. At the same time the quadriceps relax in order not to impede the flexibleness. This is referred to as reciprocal inhibition (more concerning this later). Additionally it is known as the agonist/antagonist romance. Thus the degree of amount of resistance or compliance of an opposing or synergistic muscle can increase or lower one's ROM.

Insert Illustration displaying agonist-antagonist relationship

Research Box

Effects of Stretching on Passive Muscle Anxiety and Reaction to Eccentric Exercise. La Roche DA and Connolly DA. 2006 (vol 34, 6, 1000-1007). North american Journal of Athletics Medicine.

The reason for this study was to examine if 4 weeks of stretching could decrease the threat of muscle injury pursuing eccentric exercise. 29 content were allocated to a static stretching out, ballistic stretching out, or control group. Baseline measurements for energetic flexibility, stiffness, optimum torque, and pain were recorded. Things then performed a stretches program for s total of 3600 seconds over 4 weeks in their designated group. Baseline examined was then repeated with an eccentric process designed to cause muscle damage added after day 1. Both stretching groupings increased their range of motion and extend tolerance following 4 weeks of stretching out. After eccentric exercise both stretching groups had better flexibility and less pain than the control group. The authors concluded that four weeks of extending maintains flexibility following eccentric exercise.

The Action of Stretching

When you expand your muscle the foundation of the stretch is in the sarcomere. As the sarcomere agreements, the region of overlap between heavy and slim filaments increases and this facilitates increased compelled production. Consequently, as the muscle exercises this area of overlap lowers allowing muscle elongation. This is known as "Sarcomeres in series. " When the muscle gets to its maximum resting length the stretch out tension transfers to the connective muscle. Because connective structure is less pliable than muscle tissue, the relative stretch out is considerably reduced. When we stretch out, not all fibers are stretched and the distance of the muscle actually is dependent upon the number of stretched fibers. Once we increase the amount of the muscle more materials are stretched. The ultimate length of the stretch is also inspired by other opinions from proprioceptors, the stretch out reflex and lengthening response. Let's look at what these are!


Anytime we move our limbs around we acquire opinions information about the position and amount of our muscles and limbs. This information about the musculoskeletal system is relayed back to the central nervous system via proprioceptors. Proprioception is a spatial awareness of one's body movement and position. Proprioceptors are sometimes referred to as mechanoreceptors plus they specifically detect changes in position, force and stress of muscles. Whenever we extend a muscle the proprioceptors provide responses about the space of the muscle, especially discomfort and pain when the muscle is extended too far. The principal proprioceptors involved in stretching are called muscle spindles or extend receptors. Also included are golgi tendon organs which are located in the tendon at the end of muscle. They offer information specifically on positional changes and pressure or anxiety. Golgi tendon organs provide information about the change in muscle stress as well as the rate of change in pressure (sometimes called rate of force development). Thus, along they provide responses about when our muscles are lengthening or are experiencing too much force.

(3)Stretch out Reflex

Naturally, when the muscle lengthens so too do the muscle spindles. The information provided by the spindles activates what is called the stretch reflex or myotatic reflex. This triggers the muscle to shorten (it essentially resists lengthening). This stretch reflex contains both a static and a strong component that relate to the initial upsurge in span and the duration of the stretch out. These are called the lengthening reaction and the reciprocal inhibition.

(3)The Lengthening Reaction

When we expand and generate the stretch out reflexes triggering the muscle to long term contract, pressure is produced at the musculotendonous junction (this is where the GTO is located). As the strain increases it gets to a threshold which in turn causes a "lengthening reaction" which prevents the muscle from contracting and actually causes those to relax. (This is often referred to as the inverse myotatic reflex or autogenic inhibition. ) This action is part of the reason that exercise prescription for stretching out advocates keeping a stretch for at least 15-20 seconds.

(3)Reciprocal Inhibition

A final awareness in this section is the action called reciprocal inhibition. In reciprocal inhibition the antagonists are essentially neutralized and averted from contracting in that way not impeding the stretch out of the agonist. Training how to voluntarily relax your antagonist can boost your stretch response in the agonists.

(1)Types of Stretching

Stretching can take many forms, last for various durations, and also have both positive and negative effects on athletic performance. Stretching can be carried out statically or dynamically. If a stretch is conducted dynamically, it directly affects dynamic flexibility. If it's done statically, it'll directly have an effect on static flexibility. There is also some crossover impact between your types of stretching out. You'll find so many ways to stretch. The next is a set of stretching out techniques.

Static Type Stretching

Static stretching quite simply involves a kind of stretching whereby the muscle is lengthened and then performed in that lengthened position for a pre-determined time frame. The following are types of active stretching.

Static Holding Stretches involves stretches ones own muscle so far as comfortable and then holding the stretch for 10-30 seconds.

Passive Stretching entails someone else stretching out your muscle and making use of the 10-30 second carry. This technique usually results a further stretch than specific static stretching out. Sometimes this system is employed without someone else by using another body part to stretch out a particular muscle group. A straightforward example is stretches your quadriceps by keeping your foot and pulling up women back. Sometimes you will see passive stretching out called relaxed stretching out or static-passive stretching out.

Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation Stretching (PNF) is a favorite and effective method of rapidly increasing ROM. PNF combines both static and dynamic components insurance firms isometric agonist contraction, relaxation and contraction again. It normally requires a partner and is sometimes call partner aided stretching. In basic PNF the individual stretches an agonist muscle so far as possible (somebody can help stretch out further. ) This first stretch is held for approximately 10 seconds and then an antagonist contraction uses for 5-10 seconds. Following this the initial agonist is then extended again and the cycle repeated. This routine should be repeated about 3-5 times on each muscle, with the muscle being stretched a little farther every time.

Isometric stretching out is somewhat of an mixture of PNF and static stretching. This method requires the muscle to deal by the end of the range of motion and so the muscle being extended is also the agonist. A common example is a calf stretch out where one pushes against the wall creating both pressure and stretch out in the leg at exactly the same time. An additional good thing about isometric stretching is that additionally, it may increase durability.

Dynamic Type Stretching

Dynamic stretching basically involves a kind of stretching whereby the muscle is lengthened and shortened at various speeds with no muscle being kept in the lengthened position for just about any period of time. Listed below are types of dynamic stretching.

Ballistic stretching runs on the limb's momentum to drive it beyond its normal ROM. Sometimes added weight can be placed to raise the stretch. This stretching out requires limbs swinging through their ROM backwards and forwards for about 10 repetitions. This stretching out has typically been viewed as unsafe. However, it works well if progress is performed little by little and few incidents have been reported. One concern with this stretch is usually that the muscles don't have enough time in the lengthened position to adapt to the stretch and may in simple fact invoke the stretch reflex causing increased tightness.

Dynamic stretches is a intensifying stretching technique relating slow raises in ROM and rate. In contrast to ballistic stretching, energetic stretching is more controlled and progressive. Active stretching does not contain bouncing or ballistic motion. Dynamic stretches are commonly used in team sport adjustments or where velocity movements are important.

Active stretches is not commonly utilized as it is difficult and uneasy to a qualification. In this system a muscle is placed only by the antagonist muscle in a certain position at the limit of motion for approximately 10 seconds. For example, lifting your lower leg straight up and having it. Yoga uses many of these kinds of stretching.

Application Question: Can you improve your versatility if you are fifty or sixty yrs. old?

Answer: Even elderly women and men over seventy yrs. old can increase their versatility (Brown et al. 2000; Lazowski et al. 1999). With strength training the elderly, even in their 90s, can increase their strength and muscle tissue although not as fast and as much as teenagers, however they can (Fiatarone et al. 1990; Lexell et al. 1995), and the responsiveness to strength training determines the potency of isometric exercises (the most extreme stretches) so long as the structure of the individuals joints is no obstacle.

Exercise Prescription for Stretching

The major reason advocated for the introduction of flexibility and its own diagnosis is the reduction of injury. Interestingly, the literature will not support increased levels of static or vibrant flexibility reducing accident. It actually shows up that folks at both extremes of static flexibility may be at higher risk for musculoskeletal injury and we don't possess mush information on the partnership between dynamic flexibility and injury. In general, it is agreed that flexibility is healthy and even though most experts agree on the great things about flexibility and stretches, precise suggestions for extending do not evidently exist. There is certainly wide variation in the type of extending, duration of exercises and intensity. A lot of people stretch for only a few seconds whereas others may extend for 50 minutes such as a yoga category. General guidelines by the North american College of Athletics Medicine (ACSM) recommend three days and nights of stretching per week, holding stretches for 10-30 seconds and 3-5 stretches for each major muscle group. ACSM suggests static stretching for the majority of the population.

When is it best to extend?

In standard, muscle is more receptive to extend when it's warmer. Therefore, it creates more sense to extend your muscles pursuing exercise. We must be careful and separate between stretching to improve ROM and warming up for performance. Individuals muscle extends better at about 38. 5 c. which is greater than normal body temperature. Because of this, post exercise could very well be the optimum time to expand.

Factors Influencing Flexibility

Many factors donate to joint versatility. Sometimes the factors influencing flexibility can be labeled as intrinsic or extrinsic factors. Intrinsic factors apply to those musculoskeletal factors within the body such as ligaments and tendons, whereas extrinsic factors generally connect with factors such as get older, gender, body build and so on. Generally, extrinsic factors are the ones that we cannot change.

Intrinsic Factors for Flexibility

While factors such as time and gender clearly are likely involved, the structure of the joint itself plays a significant role in its own flexibility. Joints comprise various types of tissues and bone and these components differ in how they donate to joint flexibility. Stand 2 provides home elevators the relative contributions of soft tissue to joint ROM. Intrinsic factors specifically relate with the mechanised properties of the musculoskeletal variable. This varies between individuals and it is affected by damage, contest, muscle types and amount as well as others. In general, when we practice stretching we would like to make change to these intrinsic factors.

Extrinsic Factors for Flexibility

We can presume the intrinsic factors to be rather regular within individuals going out of a great deal of room for the many extrinsic factors to affect joint overall flexibility. However, extrinsic factors usually clarify variability between bones within individuals and overall versatility between individuals rather than all are changeable.

Gender: In general, females are more flexible than guys across the lifespan. Several factors contribute to this increased flexibility such as lower muscle mass, different hormone attention and anatomical variants in joint framework.

Age: flexibility tends to decrease with era usually from the teenage years. With increasing age group there is a reduction in elasticity of connective tissues surrounding both joint parts and muscles. For the most part this is attributed to decreased activity levels.

Temperature: Muscle and connective structure are like most other materials, i. e. these are more pliable/adaptable at warmer temperature. Increasing body's temperature through an appropriate "warm-up" increases the overall flexibility of the muscle and joint. Subsequently, a reduction in body or muscle temperatures decreases flexibility and may even increase the risk of injury.

Habitual/Exercise Activity: Individuals normally maintain the required overall flexibility to perform tasks they perform on the daily or regular basis. Some scientists make reference to this as "form employs function. " Therefore, individuals who exercise regularly and exercise their limbs through a full ROM have a tendency to preserve flexibility better with time. A sedentary lifestyle is associated with decreased flexibility.

Injury: Injury is a common cause of loss of overall flexibility especially in the higher extremities. Joint incidents typically bring about the deposition of collagen or scar tissue formation. Scar tissue specifically restricts the ability to move of the joint. Joint accidents also bring about inflammation that also restricts flexibility. Following harm rehabilitation to specifically regain and increase ROM is extremely important to allow the joint to return on track function.

Joint Structure/Type of Joint: Overall flexibility is specific to each joint and also to how the joint is designed. Ball and socket bones (triaxial) are a lot more mobile than glinglymus joint parts (uni-axial). Joints belong to one of four categories predicated on ROM, no movements (non-axial), uni-axial, bi-axial or triaxial. The composition of the joint is therefore a major determinant in a joint ROM.

Muscle Mass/Body Build: The role of muscle mass in versatility while important is often over-emphasized. Generally, well hypertrophied muscles of the chest muscles, e. g. torso and forearms, can restrict movement. However, if muscles are developed through the complete ROM of the muscle, flexibility is often preserved. Male gymnasts are among well hypertrophied muscle and high overall flexibility. Therefore, while muscle mass can are likely involved in diminishing overall flexibility, the unwanted effects can be minimized by making sure full ROM during muscle contraction.

Pregnancy: Women generally increase their versatility during pregnancy. The essential reason behind this is to prepare for childbirth but also to allow greater ROM in the hip region. Specifically, the pelvic and hip bones increase in flexibility scheduled to increased development degrees of the hormone relaxin. This may also help ease discomfort with being pregnant associated Lordosis. Relaxin levels reduce following motherhood.

Stretch tip number 2 2 (see illustrations)

Your good friend complains of limited calf muscles pursuing running, what is it possible to recommend?

Stand with foot together, legs direct, over a step and allow heels hang over the edge. Hold this position for 20 seconds. Repeat several times.

Stand with foot together about 3 foot away from a wall membrane. Place your hands on the wall and little by little bring your breasts into the wall membrane. Keep both heels on to the floor. Maintain this position for 20 seconds.

Stand with ft collectively about 3 foot away from the wall. With hands on the wall, bring one lower leg forward and force with the back leg keeping the heel on the floor. Do it again on each leg.

Flexibility and Athletic Performance

It is a widely used conception that versatility improves athletic performance. However, the medical literature will not consistently support this opinion. There is excellent variation in the quantity of flexibility required for successful performance between activities and even within activities, such as team sports activities, there is vast individual variance. Furthermore, decreased overall flexibility has been proven to improve working economy and so decreased flexibility can occasionally improve performance. Some studies have shown that less stiff muscles are more effective in using the stored elastic energy that is developed throughout a stretch. However, we must be cautious about when these exercises are initiated as recent data suggests that static stretching prior to activities requiring maximal contraction will cause a reduction in performance. Overall, the ability of increased overall flexibility to improve athletic performance is most probably limited to those activities that truly require extreme amounts of versatility such as gymnastics, body skating etc. and a common approach of necessitating infinite flexibility in all sportsmen is not warranted.

Research Box

Dynamic versus Static Stretching Warm-up: THE RESULT on Electricity and Agility Performance. Mc Millian et al. 2006 (vol20, 3, 492-499). Journal of Power and Conditioning Research.

30 subject matter participated in a study to determine the effects of a powerful warm-up (DWU), a static stretch out warm-up (SWU), or no warm-up (NWU) on a T-shuttle agility test, an underhand treatments ball chuck, and a 5-step jump. Testing took place over three consecutive times and the order of all testing and warm-ups was randomized. Each warm-up lasted for ten minutes. The DWU comprised some exercise such as bend and reach, push-ups, squats, and skipping. The SWU comprised of exercises like the overhead pull, quadriceps stretch out, trunk flexion and extension. All stretches were performed once and presented for 20-30 seconds. The NWU group does no exercises. Results showed significantly greater performances for all assessments carrying out a DWU. The performances did not vary between your SWU and NWU. The authors conclude that the use of SWU should be reassessed when preceding athletic performance.

Measurement of Flexibility

Several basic overall flexibility tests exist such as sit and grab hamstrings and low backside and shoulder rotation test for shoulders. Since flexibility varies between joint parts, comprehensive flexibility diagnosis would need to assess many bones. This is not really possible and so one typically chooses a few major bones and muscles such as low back and hamstrings, leg and Achilles, and shoulder blades. Simple assessments for these assessments as well as more descriptive laboratory practices are described at the end of the chapter. Any way of measuring of overall flexibility should be based on audio and accepted screening procedures. Generally static flexibility testing are the most widely used and they are based on linear and angular measurements of the movement of the joint. All versatility assessments should follow a standardized technique whereby warm-up, and practice studies are all operated.


After you read this chapter, you ought to be able to do the next:

Define overall flexibility and other relevant terms related to flexibility

Flexibility is actually the number of motion around a joint. It really is inspired by many factors.

Flexibility is an important for overall health. It's important for basic daily function and comfort.

Flexibility varies between joint parts within individuals and between individuals.

List the factors influencing flexibility

Factors that influence overall flexibility are numerous and different and can be classified as intrinsic or extrinsic.

Intrinsic factors include parameters like the tendon and muscle, whereas extrinsic factors include factors such as age, gender and activity levels.

Explain the techniques for improving and calculating flexibility.

There a wide range of ways to stretch and improve flexibility. The mostly prescribed method is static stretches for 10-30 seconds per muscle group.

Including safe and full ROM exercises into our day to day routine is an excellent way to improve and preserve versatility.

Flexibility should be assessed at multiple sites and can be assessed using basic goniometry or a far more simple test like a sit and reach teat.


Flexibility is an important part in overall health and generally declines with years. There are benefits including reduced threat of low back pain and increased practical range of motion. Flexibility varies between people and is influenced by many factors. These factors are usually classified as intrinsic or extrinsic. When we stretch we live usually trying to improve intrinsic factors. Flexibility usually takes two varieties, static and strong, and we can expand a muscle using either form. Most exercise prescription for flexibility advocates static stretching out and involves keeping a stretch out for 10-30 seconds per muscle group. Whenever we stretch or assess flexibility, it should be performed at multiple sites as versatility is commonly site specific. The major bones to consider will be the lower back, shoulders, and hamstrings.

Chapter Review

Flexibility Discourse Questions

Identify and illustrate 5 extrinsic factors that are known to influence versatility!

What will be the best methods to improve versatility?

What are the various musculoskeletal components offering regulatory reviews to muscle stretch?

Can you identify between the jobs of golgi tendon organs and muscle spindles?

Provide a short description for every single of the following terms:

'Sarcomeres in series'.

Stretch reflex.

Lengthening effect.


Autogenic inhibition.

Reciprocal inhibition.

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