In this article, learn why flexibility is crucial while working out in your Red Deer gym.
Flexibility in Strength Training – Why EVERYONE Needs to be Concerned with Range of Motion
In the current fitness industry and in lots of Red Deer gyms, all too often principles will be emphasized for a specific target population and ignored for another. A good example of this type of selective fitness requirement is the appreciation for flexibility and its importance for the elderly and the injured. It is not too common to hear a muscle-bound young male in the gym discussing with his lifting buddies how much time and effort he puts into maintaining the ability to touch his toes. Although this individual may not appreciate flexibilities importance, if he gets injured it will be too late. Unfortunately not often recognized, flexibility while important for the above mentioned groups is just as important for the athletic populations as well for both joint health and optimal performance.
If we consider full body movements such as squatting and deadlifting, or more dynamic exercises such as would be included in sport; running, jumping, throwing, they all require fundamental ranges of motion. Therefore, to be able to deadlift, I need a certain amount of hamstring flexibility to allow for me to successfully hinge at my hip while not damaging my lower back. If I am a power lifter or Olympic weightlifter and cannot obtain a good base squat position without load, I am asking to waste energy to obtain my position and possibly get injured in my pursuit of strength. Training ranges of motion that have not been earned by the individual is a dangerous path to continue down. Not only are you fighting where your body feels comfortable to be, but also loading the pattern.
Muscles’ force potential and ability to create leverage to cause movement at the joints is dependent on an idea known as equivalent tension, sometimes termed joint centration. In ideal joint centration, all muscles on all sides of a joint have equal pull, allowing for smooth and efficient movement at the joint in question. This is important for athletes as if they have extremely tight hamstring muscles, the lack of range of motion in this muscle will negatively impact my ability to use the opposing muscle group, the quadriceps. In an athletic endeavor (yes, flexibility is important in athletics just as much as fitness in Red Deer gyms), this could be represented by my inability to produce substantial kicking power in soccer, football and the like. An appreciation of how muscles lack of flexibility can reduce the opposing muscles potential is essential in any individuals training program, and if not respected is often the culprit behind overuse injuries.
So the next time you are in your Red Deer gym, take a few minutes post workout to do some active stretching of the muscle groups that you have just worked. The period immediately following exercise offers a time in which the muscles are better prepped too allow for better and more effective stretching due to having good blood flow and recent use of ranges of motion. This attention to reducing tension will be instrumental in reducing muscle soreness in the following days to come. Training builds tension, to assure we offset this, stretching needs to be performed routinely just as the training that leads to it.
Ryan Darling, M.Sc.
Personal Trainer, 360 Fitness
Red Deer, AB.