Do you want to improve your range of motion (ROM) in your muscles?
In our last blog we talked about your unique range of motion. There are several ways to safely and effectively improve your ROM.
Why would you want to increase ROM anyway? If you are training for a particular sport you should aim to have a little more functional ROM than is required for that sport. The same applies for the activities in your daily life.
Most of us are familiar with a static or passive stretch. For example, bending over and touching you toes is a static stretch. There are circumstances where this is appropriate such as muscle cramp, minor strain or an extreme imbalance.
Perform static stretches with care, purpose and in conjunction with a diverse flexibility routine.
Here are some of other ways for you to safely and effectively stretch to achieve the ROM for your individual situation.
Dynamic Joint Mobility (DJM)
Also known as joint rolling, this takes your joints through a full range of motion. It contributes to the health of the joint by maintaining smooth joint surfaces. It also improves the circulation of joint blood flow. Joint rolling prevents or reduces arthritis and is suitable for nearly every individual.
Precision Nutrition has an outstanding blog post on DJM titled: All about Dynamic Joint Mobility. MC Schraefel Does a wonderful job explaining this technique!
Weight Training Through a Full ROM
Every sport or activity requires a particular ROM and you can incorporate it into your strength training.
If you’re a basketball player you probably don’t need to go into a full squat when you train your legs, but if you are a lineman in football, you will be in a full squat quite a bit.
If your sport or goal requires you to have a lot of range or flexibility, then you can practice this in the gym. Full range of motion weight training works because you are creating strength and flexibility through the range of motion you want to be able to perform in.
Dynamic Stretching and Plyometric Exercise
This form of stretching prepares the body for physical exertion and sports performance. Dynamic stretching increases ROM, blood and oxygen flow to soft tissues prior to exertion.
Dynamic stretching is a form of stretching beneficial for sports. Utilizing momentum from form, and the momentum from static-active stretching strength, in an effort to propel the muscle into an extended range of motion not exceeding one's static-passive stretching ability.
The goal of plyometric exercises is to increase power (speed-strength). You exert maximum force in short intervals of time. The body learns to move from a muscle extension to a contraction in a rapid or "explosive" manner.
Vigorous activity increases the heart rate and activates the adrenal response. The neural feedback your muscles receive goes up and sharpens the stretch reflex.
Perform these ballistic movements with speed eventually approaching the speed of your sport.
Isometric Strength and Flexibility Training
Isometrics involves pushing against an immoveable object like a wall. You become stronger at the angle of force. This has an interesting effect if performed at your stretch limit.
If the body doesn’t like an extreme range because you lack strength in that range, working your strength at your range of motion limit is beneficial.
A technique known as proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation (PNF) tricks your stretch reflex by convincing it you are strong. At your full range, or what your body thinks is its limit, yet you make it contract harder by flexing that muscle. Once you relax you can obtain more stretch.
Most likely you never considered the importance of your breath control.
Voluntary and involuntary actions constitute our nervous system. We consciously control moving our limbs and talking. We can’t consciously control our digestion.
The conscious and unconscious nervous systems regulate breathing. When you practice breath control there is a change. You can create a pathway to gaining control over unconscious functions such as your heart rate.
The right type of breathing makes you stronger and more flexible. For example, when doing isometrics breathe shallowly and when relaxing into your stretch breathe deeply.
Mindful athletic preparation is the best way to avoid injury and increase performance.
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