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TRA INI NG FOR FLEX IBILITY.

unce1 ta in . Warm-u p does increase muscle temperature but at the same time results in generally increased tension leve l, wh ich ca n be detrimental to fle x ib ili ty. A recent innovation in flexibility train ing has been variously referred to as isometric stretching and the 3'S Flexibility, in the context most useful (Scientific Stretch in g for Sport) method . to us, is best defined as the maximum It in vo Lves a ma x im al iso metric possible range of movement of a joint or co ntraction of the muscle to be stretched a series of joints. The spec ifi c connective and a subsequent static stretch of that tissues that are responsible for resistance muscle. The isometric contraction allows to a joint movement are muscle, ligament, the Golgi tendon organ to ref lexly in hibit jo int capsule and tendon. It is th is group the muscular group as soon as the of connect ive tissue that must be路 co ntraction ceases. Furthermore, there is stretched in order to improve fl exib ility. some evidence to show that a strong In gymnastic , rainirrgfrrrttexibiliLVis contraction o tnis type will facilitate -t h,_e__,__ usually done active ly; that is, we are fo llow ing concentric contraction of the responsible for the muscular contraction s antagonists (the muscles acting in a that result in the stretch , rather than direction opposite to those having passive ly where the stretching force is contracted or the agonists). The applied external ly . Active stretch ing can rema inder of the stretch shou ld ideally be A HAZARDOUS SPORT: GYMNAST KATHY be done ballistica ll y - the bouncing type a correct ly executed static stretch. RIGBY SHOWS HER CHAMPIONSHIP STYLE of stretching - or statically. For examp le , in order to stretch the There is much ev idence to show that hamstr ings and related muscular groups CoedJoclts both types of stretch ing are equa ll y about the righ t hip by this method one Contrary to the predictions of effective in terms of improving flexibility. wou ld , from a sup ine position, raise the male chauvinists, the female body However, a ref lex known as the myotatic right leg and then try to I ower it aga inst can withstand the bruises of vigstretch reflex w ill resist a ballistic stretch . an immovable resistance, such as a orous athletic competition. A ballistic stretch also requires more partner holding the leg up, for the energy, is more likely to result in muscle isometric contraction. After holding this Dr. Thomas E. Shaffer and Dr. soreness and is more likely to result in contraction for severa l seconds (6 seconds H. Spencer Turner of Ohio State injury by exceed ing the extensibility of is most common for isometric conducted a study of 241 woplen the tissues in vo lved. contracti ons ), the leg should be moved athletes to determine the types Static stretching of sufficient tension toward the head by the contraction of and frequency of injuries they inwill activate an organ known as the Golgi the opposite muscl e group. From here it curred while participating in 路intendon organ which will reflexly inhibit is probab ly best to follow the principles tercollegiate sports. the muscle and the entire functional of static stretching : re lax the muscle "Women," they report, "are group in which it lies. This is, of course, group to be stretched and with a capable of strenuous exercise and desirable for flexibility but , as has been 路 reasonable amount of tens ion on the stated, the tension has to be reasonably group maintain the position for in the can undergo training and condihigh in order to activate the Go lgi tendon . neighborhood of one minute. tioning to improve skill and physorgan. It appears, then, that static It should be stressed t hat the ev idence ical condition. Within their own stretching is superior to ba llistic indicates that the 3'S method is by far groups (women vs. women} we stretching for flexibility training. The the most superior method of flexibility don't see any sport in which they retention of the flexibility by the two training. I suspect that combining it wit h can't compete." methods has yet to be studied. It should stat ic stretching should make it more According to the Shafferalso be noted that flexibility, just as effective yet . It is interesting that this Turner study, gymnastics promany other aspects of human method builds strength at the same time vided the highest injury rate and performance, is very specif ic to a as fle x ibility - and in the same muscle emerged the most hazardous particular body part. It may be that group. different stretching techniques are most sport. Other sports, ranked in orOn pulling all of the information effective for. particular joints. together it seems, at the present t ime, der of injury rate, are basketball, field hockey, swimming, v olleyBates found that a sustained static that, when poss ible, the best method of stretch of 60 seconds was superior to tra ini ng for flexibility involves a strong balI, track, softball and fencing. othe r durations ranging from 10 seconds isometric contract io n of the muscle to be The most frequent injuries are to 2 minutes in both fie xi bi lity gained stretched just prior to a sustained and sprains, contusions and bruises. relatively high tension stretch of the and fle x ibility retained. Women are not as likely to be Relaxation of the muscular group to relaxed muscle group in a reasonable injured in contact sports as some be stretched by such methods as massage warm environment. It will take some men expect, mainly because has been found to be useful. External effort to devise exercises that fulfill the women do not generate as much heating of the muscle group increases the above prescriptions for some of the joi nts momentum as male athletes, who and muscle groups but the potent ia l extensibility of the connective tissue and are heavier and faster. results shou ld make the effort is a lso useful in flexibility training. If th is fact can be related to warm-up is worthwhile. From THE GYMNASTIC TECHNICIAN By Hardy Fink Edmonton , Canada

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Profile for USA Gymnastics

USGF News - February 1975  

USGF News - February 1975