Fitness component that most of us miss

Fitness component that most of us miss

Fitness component that most of us miss

In gyms, parks, studio or even at home: many trainees spend many hours training in different settings in order to achieve an improvement in their fitness goal. Most often the reference in these workouts is to the classic training components, including strengthening and increasing muscle mass, improving strength or explosive power and even weight loss. However, alongside the conventional training components, there is one component that is not always clear how to integrate within the training units. This is of course about flexibility. 

It is rare to find a trainee performing exercises designed to improve the range of motion in their joints after or before weight training. The obvious question is - is stretching even necessary? Do we need flexibility training? Is it advisable to take action to improve flexibility, and if so - what actions? We will answer that now. 

Necessary for the average 

Flexibility exercises have a variety of health benefits. First and foremost, they bring about an improved range of motion. This is important at any age and especially at advanced ages, but not only - some professional and amateur athletes suffer from the limited range of motion in the joints and this may increase the risk of certain injuries. 

When it comes to weight training, in some cases they are not performed in full range of motion. Working against resistance in partial and incomplete ranges can over time produce ineffective movement patterns, which in turn may even lead to less muscle control and a change in local muscle tension, or in simpler language - shortening of the muscle. Hence it is definitely important to incorporate stretching as part of the workout in order to release and relax activated muscles. 

Performing stretching is also necessary among trainees who perform most of their exercises against instruments and power machines. These trainees work and produce resistance in the range of motion that the machines allow them. This creates a work routine of practicing small work angles compared to working against body weight or weights. For this reason, they are also advised to devote time at the end (or at some point in their training) to appropriate flexibility and mobility exercises (Mobility). 

The paradox 
Is there importance and need to perform flexibility and stretching exercises even before weight training? Not necessarily. It depends on the nature and type of training being planned. For example, a trainee who plans to perform a deadlift exercise with a bar where the range of motion in the joint is large and close to the maximum range of motion does not have to perform flexibility and stretching exercises before training. It is possible to make do with the exercise itself, as it is performed in large ranges of motion and provides leading to improvement in range of motion. 

In the context of performing low-dose stretching, or even not performing stretching at all, an interesting paradoxical situation can be noted. During a study that examined flexibility capabilities in a runner population, it was found that low flexibility in the hip joint was associated with more efficient running compared to those with good flexibility. The reason probably lies in the stiffness and stability in the pelvic area among the group of runners with reduced flexibility, which may lead to streamlining the run and increasing the length of the stride. 

Hence it is also important to note that there are differences in the flexible abilities between different trainees also in the genetic aspect, and in exercises for improving range of motion this should be taken into account. In a certain group of people, we can find people with large ranges of motion in the joints and tissues genetically alongside those with tissues and/or joints that allow them a starting point with more limited ranges. These "opening figures" can be due to a variety of reasons, such as daily occupation, sports activities, posture characteristics and even personal characteristics. 

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