09/12/2002 - Coach Tuten provides you with the Flexibility Development Program that he has implemented with the Denver Broncos.
The Three Types Of Stretches Used In Developing Flexibility
- Ballistic stretching - Bouncing hard at the extreme range of motion
- Static stretching - Applying steady pressure at the extreme range of motion without bouncing
- Passive stretching - A slow, controlled stretch of the muscle
The technique of static stretching requires a slow, controlled elongation of the relaxed muscles; you feel a pull but no pain. This position is held for 20 seconds, and then the muscle is slowly allowed to shorten.
Active stretching requires muscle action during the movement. An example of active stretching is lowering a weight against gravity in a controlled fashion (straight leg deadlift). To lower the weight, the muscle is contracted eccentrically.
Ballistic stretching is comparable to static stretching in its ability to increase a joint range of motion. The ballistic technique uses rapid bounce to stretch the muscle; however, these uncontrolled movements can easily result in excessive loading and can damage the connective tissue by extending it beyond its elastic capabilities.
Stretching & Avoiding Injury
One of the nice features of stretching is the almost total absence of injuries. In fact, when the activity is properly practiced, it probably has the best safety record of all activities. An added feature is that strength training will help prevent injury by developing muscular conditioning for the entire body, thus causing you to be stronger, tougher, and more flexible.
Can Stretching Prevent Athletic Injuries?
Although it has not yet been proven that stretching can reduce the risk of athletic injury, studies do indicate that it can effectively increase muscle movement and extend joints range of motion.
How To Stretch
A muscle can be stretched either passively or actively. Each of these types of stretching affects different parts of the muscle. When a muscle is stretched passively, the muscle is relaxed, and the portion of the muscle being worked is the connective tissue surrounding the muscle. When a muscle is stretched actively, the muscle is contracted; the portions of the muscle being stretched are the tendon and other tissues. Thus, to work the entire muscle, both passive and active stretches must be performed.
Developing Your Flexibility Program
Flexibility is an important part of strength training and speed development programs and all too frequently overlooked when programs are planned. Flexibility is important for the average person because of its relationship to health and persons' working capacity. Short muscles can become sore muscles when exposed to physical exertion. In addition, inflexible joints and muscles can limit working efficiency and cause an individual to have problems such as those associated with the lower back.
Once the warm-up exercises have been performed, you should then begin passive stretching, with emphasis on those muscle groups used most in your sport.
Guidelines For Flexibility Program
- A brief cardiorespiratory warm-up such as jogging, running in place, jumping rope or bicycling, and preliminary movements such as arm circles and joint swings should be done.
- Exercises must be performed for each muscle group or joint in which flexibility is desired.
- The stretching should be gradual and progressive for 20 to 30 seconds
- Stretching should be gentle and gradual so as not to cause over-stretching, since the stretch reflex may come into play, thus causing soreness and possible damage to the soft tissues, ligaments or tendons.
- Stretching should be distributed rather than massed; thus exercises should be performed at least several times a day and 4-to-5 days a week.
Before starting any running or lifting program the following stretching exercises should be performed after a brief warm-up.
Side Bends: View
With arms extended over the head, grab one hand with the other. Slowly bend at the waist as you gently pull hand toward the ground.
Place hands on hips and rotate full circles to the right and left.
Toe Touch: View
Standing tall with legs straight, slowly bend at the waist until you begin to feel a stretching sensation in the back of the legs. Do not over stretch or bounce. To return to a standing position, bend knees slightly to ease lower pressure on your lower back and to stretch the hamstrings. Another toe touch stretch is by sitting on the ground with heels approximately six inches apart. Grab hands and reach up as high as possible and then out to at least to lower shins or ankles.
Twisting Stretch: View
From the sitting position, place the right leg over left, place left elbow behind knee, and apply pressure. Repeat left over right.
Hurdle Stretch: View
Start in a sitting position with one leg straight out with your knee flat and your toes up. The other leg should be tucked so the heel touches your buttocks. Lean forward, reaching your hands as far as possible. Then lie backward until you touch the ground making sure your bent leg still touches the ground at the knee.
Groin Stretch: View
Start in a standing position with feet spread wide apart. Point one foot out and the other straight-ahead. By bending the knee of the foot pointing out, shift all your weight to that leg. This should straighten the other leg out. Repeat other leg.
Racer's Stretch: View
Place one leg forward with the ankle directly under the knee. The other leg is straight back with the knee almost touching the ground. Now move your hips forward, keeping the front foot and back knee in their original position. Do an easy stretch on both sides. A stretch should be felt in the groin, hamstrings and front portion of the hip.
Hip Stretch: View
Sit and pull your right heel to your forehead. With the right hand under the ankle and the left hand around the outside of the knee, pull in and hold.
The Frog Stretch: View
With the feet shoulder-width apart and pointed out at about a 1 5-degree angle, heels on the ground, bend knees and squat. Place the hands on the ground inside of the knees and apply pressure with the elbows to stretch the groin and lower back.
Calf Stretch: View
From a lunge position, keep heel flat, lean knee over the toe. Point the toes out and in for a full stretch in the ankle, Achilles tendons, groin, and hip flexors.
Spread Eagle Stretch: View
For the advanced stretcher, sit with legs spread wide apart and toes up. Lower the chest to the left leg. Keep the legs flat. Your partner should help by applying pressure forward with his chest against your shoulder blades. Repeat to the right leg and down the middle to stretch the hamstrings, lower back, groin, shoulders, and abdomen.
Yoga Stretch: View
Sit and pull the feet as close to the groin area as possible. Your partner will now apply pressure downward on your legs, then raise your legs up against slight resistance, and repeat stretch three times.
Shoulder Stretch: View
With palms down, raise your arms straight up from your side to a position level with the floor. Push your arms back so as to touch your hands behind your back. Repeat with thumbs down.
Rotator Stretch: View
Raise your elbow up to a 90-degree angle with ground. Holding elbow level, push your palm backward to the hold point. Resist pressure and go forward, then back again. Repeat other shoulder.
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