Flexibility In Sports

Mobility is fundamental to efficient performance of any action. There are countless examples of athletes with great strength that underperform because poor movement skills prevent strength from translating to performance strength.

Role of Mobility

1. Enhancement of Physical Skills:

The learning of sports techniques is difficult and in some cases impossible.This prevents the athlete from successful particpation in certain sports. Moreover, the coach may believe an athlete’s inability to perform a given technique is due to poor motor learning, lack of strength, etc., When in fact the problem may be quite simply that the athelete has insufficient flexibility to assume a required position.

2. Injury Prevention

Injury potential is nicreased greatly due to poor flexibility. It is important to remember that a muscle with low elasticity cannot resist a stretching force as well as a muscle with high elasticity. This is an important consideration in all sports. Flexibility exercises should be included in both the warm-up and cool down to provide maximum performance and protect against injury.

3. Endurance / Fatigue

A Lack of flexibility in any joint action imposes an extra workload and tension on those muscles compensating for this deficiency. The result is more rapid tiring and a reduction of performance capacity.

Flexibility and Strength Training

Many misconceptions exist regarding the relationship between strength training and flexibility. The misconception that strength training reduces flexibility persists because most people overemphasize strength training in the program without the proper stretching exercises to counteract the shortening effect which results with strength training.

Any muscle that is repeatedly overused without complete range of motion will result in tight joints and muscles. Flexibility exercises must be included to promote flexibility in such cases. Furthermore, many people do strength training incorrectly. To enhance the strength-flexibility relationship two principles must be remembered in developing flexibility with resistance techniques.

First, the entire muscle or muscle group must be worked through its full range of motion.

Second, there must be a gradual emphasis on the negative phase of work. Negative work or eccentric contraction takes place when a muscle is stretched (i.e – Elongated) while it is contracting. This is associated with the lowering phase of contraction.

Poor Flexibility Results From:

1. Overemphasis on concentric work.

2. Inadequate stretching to counteract shortening effects of concentric work.

Muscles must be worked eccentrically and allowed to avail of full lengthening to promote flexibility.