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Muscles and Muscle Injuries

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The Importance of Flexible Muscles

Most of us are aware of the importance of flexible muscles. Flexibility allows us to move with grace and fluidity, while protecting us from back pain, neck and shoulder injuries. Most people use the word flexibility in reference to the range of motion at any given joint. However, this is only a partial definition. There are actually two types of flexibility: Static and Dynamic. Static flexibility refers to flexibility of a joint when it is not in motion. Dynamic flexibility describes the range of motion of the joints when the body is moving. This is often referred to as functional flexibility.

In recent years, dynamic flexibility has moved to the spotlight, especially in the sport fitness arena. This was precipitated by research performed by Sports medicine experts that showed that excessive static flexibility may be responsible for excessive range of motion, which in turn can lead to joint instability. Athletic conditioning expert Gary Gray uses the word “mostability” to describe the joints movement through a range of motion where it can maintain its stability and control. This leads to a significant question: How much flexibility do you actually need?

The answer to this question is dependent on a number of factors, which include age, gender, lifestyle and favorite activities. A person’s individual profile must also be taken into consideration. For example, many women are hyper-flexible in their adductors (inner thigh muscles) and hamstrings (back of the legs). This type of excessive flexibility can possibly lead to MCL or ACL injuries in a highly active female. Therefore, when considering a flexibility program, it is also important to determine what muscles need to be stretched, and what muscles need to be strengthened. Also, it behooves you to keep in mind that excessive flexibility not only compromises stability, in some cases, it may actually decrease strength.

So how do you determine what muscles require flexibility training? Since this is an individual issue, and most of us rarely are subjective enough to evaluate our own bodies, it is often a good idea to engage the services of a fitness professional that is skilled in postural analysis. However, in general, there are some muscle groups that are usually tight in most people. The hip flexors probably win the award for this muscle group. Since most of us sit at our desks all day long, these muscles are in a chronically tight position. Tight hip flexors can lead to back problems as well as knee injuries.

Tips to increase muscle flexibility

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