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FLEXIBILITY the ability of a joint, or series of joints, to move through a full range of motion (ROM) without injury.

. FACTORS AFFECTING FLEXIBILITY Flexibility is related to body type, age, gender, and physical activity level. a. Heavily muscled or obese individuals may score poorly on ROM test because adjacent body segments in these people contact each other sooner than in those with smaller limb and trunk circumference. (Heyward 2002) b. Inflexible and older individuals have increased muscle stiffness and a lower stretch tolerance compared to younger individuals with normal flexibility. A decline in physical activity and development of arthritic conditions, rather than a specific effect of aging, are the primary causes for the loss of flexibility as on grows older. c. some evidence suggests the females generally are more flexible than males at all ages (Payne et. al 2000). The greater flexibility of women is usually attributed to gender differences in pelvic structure and hormones that may affect connective tissue laxity (Alter 1996). d. Habitual movement patterns and physical activity levels apparently are more important determinants of flexibility than gender, age, and body type (Kirby et.al. 1981). Lack of physical activity is a major cause of inflexibility. It is well documented that inactive persons tend to be less flexible than active persons (McCue 1953) and that exercise increases flexibility (HartleyOBrien 1980). e. Warm-up produces 20% increase in ROM. (Wright and Johns 1960). STRETCHING can improve your flexibility, reduce post-exercise muscle soreness, increase your sporting or exercise performance, reduce muscle tension, minimize your risk of injury and help you relax. Doing stretches is a vital part of any workout and should be an important part of any normal day.

TYPES OF STRETCHING 1. Static Stretch. The static stretch is the most commonly used stretch. Static stretches are positions that are held for a set length of time and can be classed as maintenance or developmental. Maintenance stretches are held for 10 to 20 seconds and, as the name implies, are designed to maintain your current level of flexibility. Developmental stretches increase your flexibility and are held for 30 to 60 seconds or longer. Static stretching is popular because it causes very little muscle tension build up.

2. Ballistic Stretching is a form of stretching in a bouncing motion. Ballistic stretching should only be used by athletes who know their own limitations and with supervision by their trainer. Ballistic stretching has been found to be hazardous towards the body. It can injure vital muscles and nerves with the sharp jerking movements. It is even possible for tissue to be ripped off the bone. 2. Passive Stretching involves a partner applying additional pressure to increase the intensity of the stretch. Passive stretching is used mainly in gymnastics. 4. Contract Relax Stretching is rather complex and takes practice in order to make the stretch useful. The muscle that is going to be stretched is actively contracted and then stretched immediately after it relaxes. This form of stretching is useful for all sports because of its effectiveness to all muscles. REFERENCES 1. Heyward, Vivian (2002). Advanced Fitness Assessment and Exercise Prescription 4th Ed. 2. Payne, N. et. al. (2002). Canadian musculoskeletal fitness norms. Canadian Journal of Applied Physiology 25: 430-442. 3. Kirby, R.L. (1981). Flexibility and musculoskeletal sympomatology in female gymnasts and age-matched controls. American Journal of Sports Medicine 9: 160164. 4. Alter, M.J. (1996). Science of Flexibility and stretching. Champaigh, IL.: Human Kinetics. 5. McCue, B.F. (1953). Flexibility of college women. Research Quarterly 24:316-324. 6. Hartley-OBrien, S.J. (1980). Six mobilization exercises for active range of hip flexion. Research Quarterly for Exercise and Sport 51: 625-635