Strength And Flexibility In Sports
Strength And Flexibility In Sports
Gary Brazina (Sports Medicine Physician) gives expert video advice on: Is strength training dangerous for the heart and circulatory system? and more...
Why are strength and flexibility so important in preventing sports injuries?
Strength and flexibility are two of the basic keys of any athletic endeavour. All sports are a combination of strength, flexibility and balance, as well as aerobic capacity, and different sports have different demands. For example, a diver needs strength and major flexibility, as does a gymnast. A football player needs more agility, balance, and strength, with maybe less flexibility. However, flexibility will always give you less risk of injury. Strength, including core strength, is going to prevent chronic injuries like low back injuries and neck problems by keeping your core, your torso, stronger. It's not just arm strength or leg strength; we have learned through biomechanical studies that doing an athletic activity involves the whole body, for example throwing a ball - it includes the legs, the torso, the shoulder, the arm; the whole body is involved in throwing that ball.
What are suggested stretching techniques?
I'm not sure that there are any main stretching techniques. The important thing for people who are going to stretch is to number one, stretch warm muscles, make sure you're warmed up before you stretch and to stretch after you've exercised, number two to avoid bouncing a stretch, the stretch should be held for a long 30 seconds and then try to increase it - stretching is a slow slow method its not a bounce. The worst stretch you can do is just bending over and touching your toes - that puts a lot of stress on the low back. There are numbers of specific stretches that can be done for each body part, whether it's your hamstrings, your calf, your low back or your neck and shoulders. All of these stretches are important, some are more important depending upon the sport you want to do, but the key thing is to stretch warm muscles, cool down slowly, and to hold that stretch.
Is passive stretching an effective way to improve flexibility and range of motion?
Passive stretching is another way to increase range of motion and strengthening. Again, it has to be done intelligently and with someone who knows your limits. Flexibility and stretching is really a spectrum. We've all been to the yoga class where we've seen people that look like a human pretzel, that can do anything. And me, I stretch and I feel like a box of Rice Krisipies. I am about as flexible as dry spaghetti. But there's a range within a persons normal. The most common stretch we see that works passively is called a PNF stretch, Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation. That stretch works very well in trained hands, where a person pushes against a resistance and then can be stretched back. It is particularly good for hamstring stretching. That's why Pilates seems to work very well in increasing flexibility.
Does strength training cause athletes to become 'musclebound'?
Strength training will not make you musclebound, and it will not make you move slower - strength training has been proven over the years to be very effective in all sports. Women particularly are worried about becoming musclebound, but this won't happen because they don't have enough natural testosterone to build the bulky muscles that a male will.
Will my muscles turn to fat when I stop strength training?
The most common reason for people's muscles turning to fat when they stop strength training is, when they're strength training they're burning huge amounts of calories to build muscle and strengthen, and they keep eating the same way when they've stopped exercising.
Is strength training dangerous for the heart and circulatory system?
Strength training is not dangerous for the heart and circulatory system, it's beneficial. You do get a cardiovascular pump from using strength training and it is quite beneficial.