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Increase Your Flex Time

January 14, 2010
By Dawn Ann Dean

There is a powerful triad of training that incorporates aerobic, anaerobic and flexibility exercises. Most fitness enthusiasts concentrate on their aerobic and strength training(anaerobic) exercises, but limit their power potential by neglecting flexibility training.

Aerobic and anaerobic training programs lead to muscular contraction, and too much of a "good thing" can lead to imbalance and injury. Flexibility training develops balance and leads to muscular elongation and extension; these attributes prevent injury and encourage spinal alignment.

Definitive flexibility is the exercised muscles' ability to move within a specific range.

Inflexibility of a joint occurs when the muscles acting on that joint become tight. Muscular tightness increases the risk of joint immobility through diminished range of motion; this can lead to injury and chronic joint disease, such as arthritis.

Dynamic flexibility exercises, such as a repetitive series of sequenced yoga poses, generate circulation to the large muscle groups, increasing their essential nutritive support while decreasing their exercise-induced waste by-product accumulation. These flexibility exercises are used during aerobic and anaerobic training warmups to enhance muscular performance and decrease the risk of injury.

Static stretching exercises are effective during post-workout cool down training, when the muscles are warm from sustained, high-intensity activity. These static stretches should be combined with cord flexibility, yoga poses, Pilates or stability ball exercises to enhance their core and balance training effectiveness.

Bouncing or forcing a muscle, or muscle group, to stretch, especially when the muscles are "cold," can lead to muscular damage or joint injury. Stretch gradually and slowly, as you increase the range of motion. Incrementally advance each stretch for the safest approach.

Another factor that diminishes our ability to maintain a flexible body is age. Research shows that as our age increases, our flexibility decreases. Lack of exercise, job-related repetitive motor skills, insomnia, menopause, daily psychological stress and chronic disease are additional factors related to diminished flexibility. To combat the natural aging process and the psychological and physiological demands of daily living, a regular exercise program of aerobics (such as: walking/running), anaerobic(weight lifiing) and flexibility training(yoga/Pilates /Stretch-Band) is recommended.

Daily aerobic exercise is vital; alternate days of weight lifting is necessary; but, flexibility training, at least three times a week, is key to a balanced fitness regimen that leads to total health and well-being. Stretching regularly relieves the muscular tightness that stress produces in the body. As the tight muscles lengthen through stretching, there is a release of muscular tension. Flexibility training encourages a relaxed body, reduces muscular soreness, and prepares the body for the stress of daily exercise.

Train using the "triad of power: aerobics, strength training, and flexibility training" to promote a balanced mind, body and spirit. Become more focused, stay injury free and prevent chronic joint- related disease.

Dawn Ann Dean is a fitness trainer at Ohio Valley Medical Center's CenterTown Fitness in Wheeling, with 26 years' experience in the fitness industry. A Top Ten 1987 Crystal Light National Aerobic Women's Individual national finalist on ESPN and north central regional gold medalist, Dean holds certifications with ACE-VI, SportsYoga (Spencer Institute), Johnny-G Spinning, IFI'A (cardio-kickboxing), Step-Reebok and is a member of the National Endurance Sports Trainer Association. Dean is also a registered dental hygienist with a Master of Science degree in dental hygiene research and administration from West Virginia University School of Dentistry.

 
 

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