Flexibility Training

By on November 16, 2013


Flexibility training goes well beyond simple static stretching. It incorporates a new understanding of our bodies neuromuscular response to, and need for, different types of stretching.

For example, the traditional static stretching “warm-up” actually generates a neuromuscular inhibitory response that weakens muscles and makes them less responsive for over 30 minutes!

The question is not whether stretching is good for you or not, the question is which Flexibility training style incorporates the stretches that are right for you and your health and fitness goals.


Every flexibility training style is good for you because they all teach you how to relax and synchronize your mind and body so that you can control your thoughts, movements and moods.

Pilates, yoga, Gyrokenetics, martial arts and modern dance use controlled movement, stretching and breathing techniques to perfect your postural alignment and optimize your functional mobility.

Flexibility is so important to the aging and athletic body that everyone must make the time to add at least one of these training styles into your weekly routine!


Pilates is one of the best training styles because it a complete system that focuses on the proper postural alignment and functional mobility of your entire musculoskeletal structure.

Pilates teaches that all movement initiates from the core or “power house” of the body and that this area must be controlled during dynamic movement in order to stabilize and protect your spinal health.

The focus on form and control makes it perfect for improving the health and vitality of the aging body (Health Fitness) and essential for almost any athlete (Athletic Fitness).


The Gyrokenetics system focuses on training the musculature of the body while mobilizing and articulating the joints to simultaneously stretch and strengthen the body with minimal pressure.

This system increases joint range of motion, develops muscular coordination and improves proper postural alignment and functional mobility primarily with an amazingly intricate pulley-system tower.

This style of training is great for both Health Fitness and Athletic Fitness because is focuses so much on muscular development with an emphasis on joint health and safety.


Yoga is an art form as much as it is a form of exercise. It integrates the mind, body and spirit to achieve a state of enlightenment or oneness with the universe.

Yoga imitates life and must be done in stages just as you experienced life in stages. It has a starting point from which to grow as you learn more about your body until you reach a state of maturity.

Yoga can be extremely beneficial for both Athletic Fitness and Health Fitness unless you try to accomplish a position your body is not ready to handle which can cause immediate and lasting injury.


(Different Times for Stretching)

The debate over whether or not stretching is good for you comes from years of improper stretching (acute and ballistic) and a misunderstanding of the different types of (and times for) stretching.

For example: traditional static stretching before exercise is clinically proven to weaken muscles and make them less responsive, but that doesn’t mean not to do them, just not before a workout.

So the real issue is when and which type of stretching will help you the most. Everyone benefits from an increase in joint mobility (range of motion), muscular elasticity and overall flexibility.


The most traditional form of stretching would be the “Static” stretch which is when a stretch is done slowly and carefully and held in an elongated position from anywhere from 2 seconds to 2 minutes. Whether you are applying the pressure yourself (active) or allowing gravity or a partner apply the stretch (passive) the trick is to breath and relax at the point of tension so that you can feel it loosen and extend the longer you hold it.

The problem is that recent studies have shown that traditional static stretching before exercise or competition reduces the responsiveness and weakens the overall strength of a muscle for up to 30 minutes! So simply do not use static stretching to “warm-up” because it actually reduces the sensitivity of the tension receptors in the muscles spindles which is counterproductive to pre-performance.

But a great time to use Static stretching is POST performance because the muscles are already thoroughly engorged with blood, oxygen and energy so now to extend and hold a stretch helps reduce the activity within the muscle encouraging a relaxing and more quickly allowing the muscle return to a normal state of functioning.



Proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation (PNF) combines active or static stretching with an isometric contractions (flexion of the muscle) and was originally designed to rehabilitate patients with paralysis.

This form of stretching simply adds a gentle methodical contraction to a static stretch that is already being held. This effectively “boosts” the flexibility, coordination and joint mobility of static stretching.

What started as a rehabilitation has been found to be extremely effective and safe for improving Health Fitness and even more beneficial at boosting peak performance levels Athletic Fitness.


Dynamic stretching uses momentum to extend a muscle to its fully elongated position in a safe and controlled manner. It utilizes speed, movement and momentum to accentuate a stretch.

Athletes are always trying to maximize their static-passive stretching abilities so that they can generate more force through increased range of motion which yields more overall energy.

This form of stretching is great for Athletic Fitness minded people who want to exert a great deal of force during competition. It is not ideal for people who are focused more on their Health Fitness.


Resistance stretching contracts a muscle against a stretch. That’s  right, you contract a given muscle and then stretch it through both its positive (concentric) and negative (eccentric) phases.

This “push/pull” method is basically flexing against your own stretch and it is the foundational success for many of the flexibility training styles including Pilates and yoga.

Bob Cooley is the founder of the Resistance stretching moment and created Resistance Stretching Training and The Meridian Flexibility System and wrote the book “The Genius of Flexibility”.

The following is a long video but a very good “talk through” on Flexibility Training styles and the benefits of AIS stretching in particular.

I you like the video discussion on the benefits of active isolated stretching by Dr. Joseph Mercola a natural health physician and Mercola.com founder go visit his website ; http://fitness.mercola.com/sites/fitn…


About TheFitnessAnswerMan

The Fitness Answer Man is the online personality founded by Kevin Forrest CPT, FMS Pro Trainer and Master Fitness Trainer for the US Military. He has worked in the fitness industry for 30 years and was one of the first trainers to incorporate the physio ball into people's workouts and helped pioneer in the field of "Core" training. He specializes in movement rehabilitation and uses his experience to help clarify the confusion about diet and exercise that still exists within the fitness industry today.

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