Is the Flexistretcher beneficial when you are already flexible?

Absolutely! We recommend attaining a certain level of flexiblity before performing the advanced stretches with your Flexistretcher. The Flexistretcher not only allows you to stretch in functional dance positions, but lets you strengthen while in the pose. The ultimate goal is not just gaining the flexibility required, but the strength necessary to sustain the movement. 

Flexibility paired with strength is imperative for functional movements required of ballet or a particular sport.  In ballet and most sports, extreme mobility and strength are mandatory to accomplish even the most introductory movements and necessary to advance to the top of your field. 

Flexistretcher

Utilizing the elastic resistance when performing stretches or exercises with the Flexistretcher increases muscle strength in a safe, productive manner.

How?  

As the band stretches, resistance increases, providing a stimulus to the muscle. This resistance does not rely on gravity.  Instead, elastic resistance requires muscle activation throughout the muscle’s range of motion, eliminating the possibility of using momentum and ‘cheating’ your way through the exercise. Moreover, strength training with elastic resistance provides variable resistance to promote the development of muscular strength and endurance. In a variable resistance exercise, the force applied to the muscle varies at each stage in order to create constant tension, causing the muscle to work harder to execute the movement.

The result is a stronger more controlled execution of functional movements necessary to be at the top of your game!

Flexibility training techniques

When looking to improve your flexibility it is very beneficial to understand the different techniques involved, which ones are proven more beneficial, and how to apply them to your flexibility routine.

Rachel Hamrick

An educated dancer is a healthy one! Don't let injury set you back. You might not see an injury right away, but frequent muscle misuse can result in incorrect form, causing an injury years down the line.

Ballistic stretching

The oldest technique is the ballistic stretch, which consists of repetitive bouncing movements and uses a swinging momentum of the trunk or limb, forcing the limb into an extended range of motion when the muscle has not relaxed enough to enter it.

The trouble with ballistic stretching is that it is not well controlled and the end position is not held, so it is easy to over extend and risk injury. These movements should only be performed when the dancer/athlete is well warmed up or they could potentially cause an injury to muscle tissue, tendon or muscle connective tissue.

This type of stretching should be performed with caution and has been virtually abandoned by almost all experts in the field due to safety concerns.

Dynamic stretching

Dynamic stretching incorporates movements that mimic a specific sport or exercise in an exaggerated yet controlled manner; often include during the warm-up or in preparation for a sports event.

As an example of dynamic stretching for ballet, a controlled développé to the front or side dynamically stretches the hamstrings as it reaches maximal height.

This type of stretching is best for getting the body ready for an activity and used as a warm up. These stretches should be performed slowly to start and gradually increase the speed and power of the movement.

Passive stretching

Passive stretching is a technique in which you are relaxed with no muscle activation relying on the force of gravity. This type of slow, relaxed stretching is useful in relieving spasms in muscles after an injury. 

Static stretching

Static stretching involves holding a position and elongating the muscle to its tolerance. That is, you stretch to the farthest point and hold the stretch.

Once in the stretch position, remain in that position for 30 seconds, then relax. Each stretch should be repeated three to four times.Static stretches should never create a sharp or painful feeling. As one relaxes into the stretch, there may be a very slight lengthening of the muscle (stress-relaxation),but there is no rapid limb movement as in ballistic stretch. The stretching force is often created by gravity acting on the body. This force is applied in a slow and steady manner, and it is important to continue regular breathing throughout the stretch. 

Active stretching

Active stretching is one of the methods of stretching most used by today's dancers, athletes, athletic trainers, coaches, and professionals. This type of stretch requires muscle activation with no use of momentum to move into a deeper range of motion. With active stretching you are able to increase flexibility safely while simultaneously strengthening the muscles. This is crucial for movements in ballet because the goal is to have the strength necessary to hold the limbs in an extreme range of motion and be able to move through these positions with ease and control.

When engaging an active stretch a common technique proven beneficial is proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation (PNF). The PNF stretching techniques employs the concept that the muscle relaxation part of the stretch is fundamental to effectively enhancing flexibility and deepen the stretch. A popular PNF technique is the contract-relax, where the muscle is stretched, contracted, relaxed, and stretched further.

The Science of Flexibility

Within a given sport or dance form, flexibility is specific to the demands of the profession and particular patterns of flexibility are related to frequent or unique joint movements.

Julia Lipari

In these fields, successes and failures are visible for all to see. In a dance context, one can do little to hide a poor arabesque or failed grande jete.  According to the Michael J. Alter, the author of Science of Flexibility, the word flexibility can be defined in several different ways depending on the discipline or the nature of the research. In physical education, sports medicine and allied health sciences, the simplest definition of flexibility is the range of motion (ROM) available in a joint or group of joints.  Many researchers and clinical investigations of flexibility use the maximal joint range of motion (ROM) as the dependent variable to measure flexibility.

Alter's research is a great reference, providing a well-rounded understanding of all aspects of stretching and flexibility.  Here are some key points from his study that will give you a better understanding on the actual science behind functional flexibility and training: 

  1. Functional flexibility is unique to each sport or dance style: The ability to use the full range of motion within a joint at normal or rapid speed in high performance physical activity refers to "functional flexibility."
  2. There is a distinct difference between fast and slow functional flexibilities: An example of slow functional flexibility in ballet is the ability of the dancer to raise and hold the leg at extremes height. Conversely, an example of fast functional flexibility is a grande jete or split jump.
  3. Flexibility training programs are necessary. They help you to maintain a healthy ROM and allow the body to move freely within the movement patterns that are asked of it.
  4. Stretching and ROM exercises are not the same. Stretching takes soft tissue structures beyond their available length to increase ROM. ROM exercises are used to work within the limits in order to maintain the available length of tissue.

The potential benefits of a flexibility training program for your functional needs are limitless. Set your goals and grab your Flexistretcher.  

4 Facts about Stretching

 
Flexistretcher Front Split

1. What is stretching?    

Stretching is actively working to increase a range of motion around a joint. 

2. Why stretch?

Stretching is a simple and effective way to enhance athletic performance, decrease the chance of injury, and minimize muscle soreness.

When you increase range of motion in joint you increase the distance the limbs can move and contract. By improving flexibility you reduce risk of injury because your joints are better able to move through their full range of motion.

This can improve the muscle’s power, and your ability to actively control the muscles, resulting in a better execution of movement and an enhanced performance.

Other added benefits of stretching are improved posture, improved circulation by increasing blood flow to the muscles, increased energy levels, reduced muscle tension, and stress release.

3. What are the Dangers of poor flexibility?

Tight stiff muscles limit normal range of motion and interfere with correct muscle actions. This can greatly increases the chance of becoming injured and is why you must keep up with a daily stretching routine. 

4. Stretching is not a one time magic wand!

The benefits of stretching can be accomplished when flexibility training is applied professionally and diligently over an extended period of time. Do not expect miracles from a stretching routine it takes time, dedication, and determination!