Great Post by: Andrea Beres Leonard
Flexibility is overlooked by most of us. Lack of flexibility may lead to long-term joint degeneration, overuse injuries, and muscle imbalances. By definition, flexibility is the extensibility (ability to lengthen) of all soft tissues that allow a joint to move within it’s full range of motion. Your muscular, skeletal, and nervous system make up your kinetic chain. Your kinetic chain must be aligned properly to prevent patterns of joint dysfunction. When things are not properly aligned, it is known as postural distortion. Postural distortion leads to decreased neuromuscular efficiency and tissue overload. In laymans’ terms, injury! Your primary goal needs to be to maintain homeostasis of your kinetic chain. Imagine a chain link fence. Your dog skurries his way underneath the fence for years. You think nothing of it. Gradually the fence becomes distorted; some of the links are squashed together, the metal is buckling, there is a big gap in the bottom, it’s structural integrity is weakened. Now imagine the same thing happening to your spine. It may not be noticeable now, but over the course of time it, too, will deteriorate and weaken. Muscle imbalances may be caused by cause a variety of external and internal influences; poor posture, emotional stress, repetitive movements (tennis, golf, bowling, etc.), cumulative trauma, poor training technique and form, lack of core (abdominals and low back) strength, and lack of neuromuscular control. Following surgery and radiation, there is usually a foreseeable amount of scar tissue and, in some cases, adhesions that can bind the joint and inhibit movement. When there is a dysfunction in the connective tissues of the kinetic chain, the body views it as an injury. As a result, the body will initiate the repair process.
Remember that although beneficial in many ways, strength training creates trauma to the tissue which will then lead to inflammation. The bodies’ protective mechanism will increase muscle tension and cause a muscle spasm. As a result of the spasm, adhesions (knots) begin to form in the soft tissue. The adhesions make the normally elastic soft tissue unable to stretch. The end result is muscle imbalance and altered joint motion. If this is not corrected, the adhesions can begin to form permanent structural changes in the soft tissue.
In summary, benefits of flexibility training:
• Increase range of motion in joint movements
• Injury prevention
• May help to prevent arthritis and other degenerative joint disorders
• Eliminates neck, shoulder, back, hip, knee, ankle, and other associated pains
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