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Often the most overlooked portion of exercise training is flexibility. As a group, this is an area where we need a great deal of work and can show the most improvement. Flexibility defined is the ability of a muscle to move through a desired range of motion while being exercised. When all muscles acting on a joint are flexible, the joint can move easily and efficiently through its complete natural range of motion. As muscles acting on a joint become tight, that joint can no longer function to its optimal capacity and the risk of injury to that joint significantly increases.

When performed as a warm-up, flexibility training leads to increased blood flow to the muscle there by enhancing the essential nutrients available to the muscle fibers. It also assists in the removal of waste products that accumulate in the muscles during exercise. It follows that flexibility training after activity also assists in the recovery process of the muscular system.

Stretching a muscle, or group of muscles, must be done gradually when there is limited range of motion at the joint. Do not force any flexibility exercise by bouncing or rocking as this may lead to an injury to the muscle or the joint. Slowly move the body through it range of motion while approaching the threshold of pain. Each time you repeat a stretch try to advance slightly further through the range of motion.

At Princeton we typically perform a dynamic flexibility routine prior to every training session that varies depending on the training goals. We use a specific body weight warm-up prior to strength training and a separate more dynamic warm-up prior to any speed training.

Post training flexibility is just as important and will not only assist in increasing joint range of motion, but it will also minimize post training muscle soreness. We utilize individual static flexibility, cord flexibility, and simple yoga moves as a cool down post training.

Flexibility training should only take 5 to 10 minutes. Read the instructions for each stretch, and remember that just like with any other training, improvements are direct results of the effort you put forth. If you work on your flexibility you will benefit from it in the long run.






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Courtesy: Princeton Athletic Communications
          Release: 03/04/2008
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