I am aware that flexibility is not the most highlighted of fitness components when crediting any success in weight-loss, body physique or even how you perform an activity or exercise. Moreover in this rush to Carnival fitness, people may not see the immediate need to perform stretches of any kind. However, in times of physical injury, distress and limited range of motion to perform an activity, task or exercise, stretching usually takes prominence. I have had the opportunity to observe physical therapists in their jobs and I can tell you there is no shortage of stretching to restore their clients' ability to function again.
"Without flexibility the body will not exhibit optimal levels of power, strength, cardiovascular fitness, or muscle endurance. Flexibility is the cornerstone of rehab, performance, and preventing injuries" writes Lenny Parracino, Soft Tissue and Movement Therapist, Clinician and faculty member of the Gray Institute of Applied Science (US). This is why I chose this topic today. If you are physically active it makes sense that you include flexibility training in your routines. Flexibility refers to the range of motion at your joints. Flexibility training not only improves your functional activities of life, sport or play, but can offset age related stiffness, maintain or improve joint range of motion and can treat and prevent injuries. Accordingly, in your Carnival fitness preparations, where a fitness regime may not have been a regular part of your lifestyle, or as you push your bodies to the 'max' in a short space of time before Carnival, it is wise to include flexibility training since it affects all other components of fitness. Undoubtedly, most of you know that stretching is the technique used to deliver flexibility training and you would have read at some point about the various types, frequency and general rules about stretching. For detailed information on stretching see link at end of this text: 'Stretching – A Research Prospective' and other links provided.
So what is functional flexibility? More so, how does this relate to our soca diva Patrice? Functional flexibility is the flexibility that allows us to function better at our desired task. It is viewed differently from general stretching techniques that is designed for flexibility at a specific joint with a specific range of motion. However, both are interconnected. Consideration for functional flexibility programming takes into account the individual and the specific task. In Patrice's case, her 'desired function' is to perform for you with high energy, vigour, adequate movement/flexibility, move in a variety of directions (planes) and so on….need I say more! Technically, to design a functional flexibility programme for Patrice we would have to know her limits, her current condition, what she need/wants to do and then be able to apply the knowledge of the function of the primary muscles used during the task. This is the same method adopted for our professional athletic teams as they prepare for world class competition and can also be applied in fitness when desired. Later in Mr Parracino's article, he states: "When the body changes angles, positions, etc, its function changes; this is why for flexibility to be functional the techniques must look like the intended function. Therefore, we need to understand how the muscles, fascia, tendons, ligaments, nerves, joint capsules, and joints are moving three-dimensionally during the exact task; not only how much motion but also how well". In applying this approach for Patrice, we can identify for example, that multi-planar, multi-joint stretching positions that mimics what she does on the entertainment stage, can be categorised as functional stretches and therefore these can be quite advantageous in her preparation for her specific task i.e. "to perform, or as we say at Carnival time…to get orne". Just had to put that in! (See Pic of Patrice with feet on step as if she is on stage with her feet up on music speaker singing to you).
We are therefore strongly recommending that you keep flexibility in the forefront of your Carnival fitness preparations this season. I have to share with you that I am not only passionate about reading what Parracino says on this subject, but I have had the opportunity to sit in on a few of his lectures/workshops abroad, together with other 'functional greats' of the Gray Institute of Applied Functional Science. Increasingly, 'functional training' is becoming the highlight of many international fitness conventions around the world. This does not negate our general flexibility principles, but rather calls upon us to consider how we 'function' in higher order.
Patrice was put through the paces by yoga instructor, Karen Blackman, Yoga Alliance E-RYT® 500 and Certified Moksha Yoga®Instructor, of Sangha Trinidad. While most of these are not exact functional stretches, these were chosen to stretch the major muscles that she uses when performing. All are not shown. Stretches were done after a 15-minute warm-up. Special thank you to the brand new Fitness Centre in Maraval for accommodating us in fine style!!!
If you would like to keep up to date with the soca star check out her FB page: www.facebook.com/PatriceRMusic.
Next week: Patrice and Lisa uses the Vipr and Rip Trainer!
Refs: Kravitz, L. Stretching – A Research Prospective, Idea Fitness Journal, Vol 6, (Nov 2009)
Parracino, L. (PT & FAFS), FUNCTIONAL FLEXIBILITY –
Complex Made Simple (2008). www.grayinstitute.com
© 2012 by IDEA Health & Fitness Inc.
Tips for Flexibility Training