What is the role of flexibility training?
Flexibility work helps your connective tissues stay elastic, as when you age these physical qualities take a beating the most! The practice of flexibility training is very important but also very misunderstood! Flexibility is probably the most neglected training practice. It’s like anything you have to practice it to improve it and develop it! However most people practice it incorrectly. If you practice it in the right way you don’t have to do as much! No shit- the best way to train flexibility is to train flexibility! Now that’s a statement you didn’t know!
To truly gain flexibility you need to devote at least 5 days a week for at least 12 weeks, for 1 hour at a time, to gain optimal flexibility.The good news is you can maintain those gains with 1 training session a week there after. Wow you say? Well it’s simple you either want to be flexible or you don’t!
Research shows that if you dedicate only 20 minutes of flexibility training every day it actually does nothing. You need a certain amount of volume to merit a permanent change. The good news is that if you work at it for the 12 weeks its very easy to maintain :)
The most important thing when you do flexibility training is use of proper sequencing when training. It’s what is vital in you achieving your flexibility goal. The best way is to do this sequence:
1. Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation or PNF- get the muscle in a stretch position then you do 6-8 seconds of contraction within the muscle and then through inhabiting inhibitions you get more flexible for that day!
2. Dynamic- if dynamic flexibility was so dangerous, then every gymnast would be in trouble or dead! Dynamic flexibility is good for you! You have to realise that the correlation between dynamic flexibility and static flexibility is only 42%, meaning that only 42% of cases that someone with good static flexibility has good dynamic flexibility and vis verser! This also stresses the need for you to do both dynamic and static flexibility work!
3. Static- this is last as it's a great way to relax the muscles! Static training is inhibitory to the nervous system. In other words, it makes you weak, but only temporarily. It’s a great way however to make your gains in flexibility permanent. So once you have done around 40-50 minutes of flexibility, you now do 20 minutes of static work to teach the brain that you are flexible. You never do static stretching before events or before competing, research is very clear that you will get injured! Static flexibility work is the supplement to PNF and Dynamic flexibility work.
Static is to retain PNF and dynamic is to gain Static work should be the last unit of training of the day, this allows you to relax the central nervous system! It should be done 4-6 hours after your strength training and this can help you relax and sleep, thus giving you the best training process!