Flexibility training is just as important as strength training for the total development and conditioning of athletes. Especially in the injury phase, we encourage stretching before and after workouts. Flexibility is defined as range of motion at a joint. It is generally felt those athletes with loose joints are more susceptible to sustaining sprains of their joints, while those with tight joints are susceptible to strains of the muscles and tendons. This has been studied in the high school, college and professional ranks. Nicholas found flexibility to be a predictor of injury in professional football athletes, while Moretz et. al. found it not significant in high schools. Basically, the protocol identified five basic flexibility movements—each performed individually by patients. Those completing two or more tests were identified as “loose-jointed” versus “tight-jointed”. Flexibility training is a key ingredient to the total conditioning of the athlete.
Stretching can take on two types of looks. The traditional stretching technique is the ballistic stretch or bouncing stretch. This has been shown to be contra-indicated for flexibility as it actually causes muscles to tighten and can lead to more muscle strains.
The advocated type of stretching is the static stretching where muscles are held for a continuous stretch for six to ten seconds. This promotes elongation of the muscle fiber and the flexibility is maintained for two or three hours of a workout. Should you ever start to sustain more muscle strains with your teams, you should look at your flexibility program and modify things to promote a elongated elasticity throughout the workouts.

In addition, flexibility after exercise is as important as pre-workouts. Encourage athletes prone to muscles strains to stretch before, during and after workouts. When stretching following activity, they return muscles to their supple elongated state. Also it aids in post recovery muscle soreness and also promotes circulation in ridding the muscles of waste products.

In summary, flexibility can be an adjunct to conditioning and rehabilitation programs. Athletic Trainers, Strength Coaches, members of the coaching staff should all encourage aggressive approaches and compliance with flexibility exercises.

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