Athletics
 

Owen Strength and Conditioning Center

Flexibility

Philosophy: Flexibility is one of the most commonly overlooked and least understood aspects of athletic development. A functionally appropriate flexibility program should decrease the risk of injury to the athlete while improving their physical performance. All Redbird athletes take part in an extensive flexibility program that pays special attention to the importance of dynamic flexibility for sporting activities, while working to improve static flexibility only in specific circumstances.

General Notes for Flexibility Training:
-The body should be sufficiently warmed up before engaging in flexibility work
-Multiple implements can be used to perform the stretching routines described in this section including, but not limited to:

-Jump Stretch Bands-Dumbbells-Hurdles
-Manual Resistance-PVC Pipe/Sticks 

-The ultimate goal of flexibility training for athletes should be to achieve/maintain adequate mobility (the ability to dynamically move a joint through its range of motion) as opposed to joint laxity, which allows for range of motion but does so at the expense of joint integrity.

Types of stretching:

Static Stretching:
This includes those stretches that are performed by maintaining a specific joint position for an extended period of time. The purpose of static stretching is to improve passive range of motion (ROM) of a given joint. This however, does not necessarily result in large gains in active joint mobility as neuromuscular control is not accounted for. Static stretches are primarily used by Redbird athletes to help alleviate the stress placed on specific joints created by the tightness of a particular muscle group. For example, an individual with tightness in their pectoralis muscles can increase susceptibility to injury by pulling the shoulders forward.

When a reduced passive muscle tonus/tension (tension=force) is desired, static stretching may be utilized. Accordingly, when we use static stretching we view time as an arbitrary variable. It is more important to relax the muscle and stretch it to the appropriate length, than it is to hold any given position for a set length of time.

Most of our static stretching will focus on any combination of the following areas depending on the individual in question:

-Glutes-Hip Flexors
-Piriformis-Groin
-Calves-Posterior Shoulder
-Anterior Shoulder, Chest, Lats 

When we perform static stretches we do not have our athletes take the movements to extreme ranges of motion. Rather we will work to increase the range of motion by using a light amount of tension on our stretches. This allows us to increase the static flexibility of our athletes without compromising joint functioning or stability.

Dynamic Stretching:
Redbird student athletes primarily use two types of dynamic stretching:

Active Stretching: Requires muscle activity to achieve the desired stretch and is not held for any period of time. Active stretching more closely mimics the joint movements achieved during sporting activities than other forms of stretching generally do. The sample stretches found in the Warm-Up and Flexibility section provide specific examples of dynamic stretches.

PNF Stretching: There are many forms of PNF stretching all of which involve phases of stretching/relaxation (dynamic or passive) as well as muscular action (static or dynamic). PNF stretching is primarily used by Redbird athletes to improve the flexibility and neuromuscular control of specific muscle groups (hamstrings, groin, etc.).

Warm-Up and Flexibility:
No matter what type of stretching is being utilized, it is essential that an adequate total body warm up is utilized prior to stretching. Our warm-up is carefully designed so that those exercises that most efficiently raise the core body temperature (ex: jumping jacks, seal jumps) are performed first, while the exercises that are most dynamic, in terms of stretching, are performed later. Listed below are some of the stretching exercises utilized in our warm-up. Remember that with only a few exceptions (seal jumps, prisoner squats) these exercises are performed after an increased core body temperature has been achieved.

-Prisoner Squats-Scorpions
-Gate Swings-Walking RDL
-Dynamic Hamstring-Shuffle-Stretch
-Upper Body Action-Tin Man
-Seal Jumps-Heel to Hip
-Mountain Climbers-High Knee Walk with Pull
-Roll Outs-Iron Cross