Fitness for Life
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Objectives for this unit
1) Understand what flexibility is and why it is
2) Understand which muscles are most important
to stretch and why.
3) Understand specificity and the difference
between different types of stretching.
4) Understand how the FITT principle applies to
5) Understand safety concerns involved with
6) Learn how to test your own flexibility.
Assignments related to
this unit
02.2.1 Baseline assessment of health-related
02.2 Avoiding injuries
02.3.1 Arm, leg and trunk flexibility
02.4.1 Flexibility exercise program
02.4.2 Activity log 3
What is meant by
“range of motion?”
ROM means the degree of movement you have.
Gymnasts have a large range of motion around
the shoulder joint. Hurdlers have a large range of
motion around the hip joint.
Flexibility is
The elasticity or compliance of muscles when
The ability to move joints through a full range of
A joint is a place in the body where bones come
Examples of joints: ankles, knees, hips, wrist,
elbows, shoulders
Range of motion is
limited by...
Ligaments – Attach bones to bones.
Tendons – Attach muscle to bone.
Muscles – Surround, protect, and move bones.
Image from Wikimedia Commons, Chad Riley, CC Attribution Share-Alike license
Flexibility facts
Question: What primary joints in the body
benefit from a greater range of motion,
particularly when it comes to sports
Image from Wikimedia Commons, Rick McCharles, CC Attribution Generic license
Flexibility facts cont’d.
Answer: Joints in the body that
benefit from good range of motion:
The ankle, hip, and shoulder joints
Note that these are known as balland-socket joints.
They permit movement in many
directions (rotation, flexion,
Flexibility facts cont’d.
The knee and elbow are known as hinge joints.
They allow only an opening and closing of a joint.
Images from Wikimedia Commons: Football player – Dirk from San Diego, CC attribution Generic license; joint - public domain
Flexibility and sports
For sports performance, it is important for major
muscle groups to be flexible:
The hamstrings
The calf muscles
The muscles of the lower back
The hip flexors
The muscles of the shoulder
Flexibility in these areas enhances performance
and reduces risk of injury.
Image from Wikimedia Commons, Kate from UK, CC Attribution Share-Like Generic license
Why should we stretch?
Health benefits of stretching:
Improved function/improved health
Flexibility helps reduce risk of injury.
Stretching short muscles helps improve posture and helps to prevent post-exercise
pain and soreness.
Good posture helps prevent or relieve back pain and helps to reduce fatigue and
emotional tension.
For elderly people, flexibility helps prevent joint aches and pains.
Stretching exercises can often alleviate menstrual cramps in women.
Gives athletes greater range of motion = faster forward movement and more
How is flexibility
affected by age or
You will lose range of motion and flexibility as you
become inactive and as you age.
Types of stretches
Static stretching (also called active stretching),
involves stretching and holding a position for 10-30
seconds. It is very safe, and is commonly
recommended because it is less likely to cause
injury. It is especially beneficial for people who
have arthritis, muscle or joint pain, or bad backs.
Image from Wikimedia Commons, Rick McCharles, CC Attribution Generic license
Dynamic Stretching
Stretching with movement (through a full
range of motion)
Dynamic stretching involves movement or
swinging motions of joints and/or limbs to
reach a stretching point.
(Examples: Trunk twists, arm circles, leg
swings, neck rolls)
Ballistic Stretching
Ballistic stretching , a technique that uses
"bouncing" to the desired position to increase
flexibility, can result in muscle pulls and strains
because it activates the stretch reflex, rather than
lessens it. Therefore, ballistic stretching is not
recommended for most individuals, and
especially not for individuals with chronic injuries. It
is best used with athletes who use this movement in
their particular sport (gymnasts, jumpers, etc….)
Passive stretching involves holding a stretch for
15 seconds or more as someone pushes or pulls the
part of your body that you want stretched. With
assisted stretching, you relax the muscle you’re
trying to stretch, and rely on the external force to
hold you in place. You don’t usually have to work
very hard to do an assisted stretch, but there’s
always the risk that the external force will be stronger
than you are flexible, which could cause an injury.
Image from Wikimedia Commons, SteelCityHobbies, CC Attribution Generic license
PNF Stretching
This type of stretching is more effective
for improving flexibility. It involves
contracting the muscle before you stretch
it so that you can stretch it farther. You
stretch a muscle (quadriceps) and then
stretch the opposing muscle to it
immediately after (hamstrings).
The Overload Principle
(F) Frequency - Stretch each muscle group daily
or at least three times a week.
(I) Intensity - You must stretch the muscle beyond
its normal length.
(T) Time - Hold each stretch for 10-30 seconds,
rest for 10 seconds and repeat three to four times.
(T) Type – Static stretching for various muscles
Safety Concerns
• Always warm up prior to stretching.
• Do not stretch swollen joints or joints that
are hyper-mobile.
• Stop if you are feeling pain.
• Avoid dangerous exercises (especially with
the back and neck.)
Principle of
Gradually increase the intensity – stretch
farther and hold longer as you progress.
Images from Wikimedia Commons, public domain
Principle of Specificity
Flexibility exercises improve only the
specific muscles at the specific joints that
you stretch.
To develop overall flexibility, you must
stretch all the muscles that need
Your flexibility is important!!!
Stretch daily and often for improved function
and improved health and wellness.
Image from Wikimedia Commons, Nevit Dilmen, CC Attribution ShareAlike license
Key Vocabulary
Ballistic stretching uses "bouncing" to the desired position to
increase flexibility.
Dynamic stretching involves holding a stretch for long
periods. This type of stretching should be done once your body
is warmed up.
Flexibility is the ability to move your muscles and joints through a
full range of motion.
Ligaments are what attach bones to bones.
Muscle is what surrounds and moves bone.
Overload is when you stretch your muscles farther than normal.
Key Vocabulary Cont’d.
Passive stretching involves holding a stretch for 15
seconds or more. With this type of stretching someone
pushes or pulls a part of your body which you want
PNF or proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation is a
method of stretching based on the principle that paired
muscle groups (agonists and antagonists such as
quadriceps and hamstrings) should be worked together so
the stretch reflex is lessened and flexibility is more easily
Static stretching involves stretching and holding a
Tendons attach muscle to bone.