of Youth Athletes
Grasso is the source for this article.
is an important component in overall fitness. However it is only a
of true fitness. There are many misconceptions about
flexibility and many less than
reliable measurement tools. The
following article from Brian Grasso helps to debunk
some of these myths
and provides age appropriate flexibility expectations.
Flexibility remains a
within the sport industry,
cluttered with myths, half-truths and opinion. Many
trainers’, coaches’, and parents’ question the type of flexibility
training an athlete should perform, when they should perform it, and
long. The answer to these questions are very important to the young
how flexibility training should be factored into the answer frequently
relates to the motivation and financial sources available. This
article may shed
some light on a few key points.
The scope of
flexibility can be seen when
considering the assessment tools most commonly used to test one’s
suppleness. The standard ‘sit & reach’ test is most often
incorporated into pre-training assessments as the ‘flexibility test’.
In fairness, many coaches and trainers I have worked with cite the fact
that the sit & reach is an indirect assessment of flexibility at
best, and does not give a truly accurate picture as to the ‘global’
suppleness an athlete may posses considering that flexibility is joint
specific. Also, it does not allow us to assess any dynamic qualities,
which is important because static flexibility is quite different than
dynamic flexibility, and dynamic flexibility is critically more
important in sport.
The degree of
flexibility a joint exhibits
is not entirely
determined by the tightness or pliancy of the muscles that act on that
joint. While elasticity of the muscle is a key component to
flexibility, so is the elasticity of the corresponding ligaments and
even the emotional state of the individual. Additionally, the physical
length of a muscle can play a very large role in determining the
flexibility or ROM of a joint. Muscle length is largely determined by
genetics, but can also be positively influenced through strength
contradicts a common myth
that strength or
resistance training INHIBITS flexibility. Furthermore, as the
elasticity of a muscle reduces with age (which we generally accept as
true), strength training can also positively influence this concern.
Yes… Strength training has a positive impact on flexibility and
suppleness! In fact, when working with younger athletes, basic static
stretching habits can increase the length of a ligament and lead to
joint instability. This can lead to poor posture and increased
dependence on muscles for joint stability. Strength and flexibility
(through full ROM) must work hand-in-hand to ensure optimal development
and decreased injury occurrence.
In terms of young
develops in correspondence
with the rate of growth. The types of training, frequency, and duration
change with as the athlete ages:
Ages 6 – 10:
Hip and shoulder mobility declines,
resulting in the need for
dynamic ROM exercises within these two joints (multi-directional raises
and rotations). Maximum flexibility of the spine is reached by the age
of 8 or 9 – increases beyond normal ROM can be made, but is unnecessary
and considered potentially harmful.
group, STATIC STRETCHING
SHOULD BE AVOIDED.
Excitement within the nervous system is much more pronounced than
inhibition, which means that kids this age cannot truly execute a held
stretch. They cannot gain the appropriate feedback from their body
needed to ensure the safety and optimal effectiveness of the stretch.
Isometric stretches (as found
in Yoga) should also be
avoided completely in this age category. These kinds of stretches may
increase the resting tone of a muscle, which can negatively affect
movement skill and coordination. Remember – Fitness fads come and go,
but the critical science of athletic development and human physiology
is what it is. Yoga has its place to be sure (although I know many
skeptics who disagree with that), but coordination and movement MUST
dominate this age bracket.
Ages 10 – 13:
Children incur gains of body mass at a
quicker rate than gains in
height at this age, which leads to an increase in strength. Flexibility
training should intensify in this age category. Increases in strength
and changes in body mass can combine and lead to poor bio-mechanical
habits – most critically in not using full ROM during movement. Ensure
that kids incorporate full ROM and dynamic exercises into their
Ages 13 – 15: Height can
increase as much as one inch
per month during the growth
spurt. Muscles and supporting connective tissue do not grow as quickly
as bone, which can result in general pain throughout the body.
Flexibility training can and should target the areas most prone to pain
– this would include quadriceps, hamstrings and muscles of the lumbar
spine specifically. Poor posture, reduced movement skill and injury are
all potential concerns of rapid growth, but can be limited with
appropriate flexibility habits.
Ages 15+: Now is
the time to start adding
sport-specific means of flexibility
training into an athlete’s routine.
Filed Under Youth
Hockey Training by TampaBayLightningCare
Flexibility encompasses more than
bending at he waist/hips and putting the palms of your hands on the
floor. Flexibility is concerned with the range of motion over which it
is possible for you to generate force through
your extremities that originates from the body's core.
is possible for the muscles of a joint to become too flexible.
According to `SynerStretch', there is a tradeoff between flexibility
and stability. As you get "looser" or more limber in a particular
joint, less support is given to the joint by its surrounding muscles.
Excessive flexibility can be just as bad as not enough because both
increase your risk of injury. Once a muscle has reached its absolute
maximum length, attempting to stretch the muscle further only serves to
stretch the ligaments and put undue stress upon the tendons
temperature of the place where one is training (a warmer
temperature is more conducive to increased flexibility)
day (most people are more flexible in the afternoon than in the
morning, peaking from about 2:30pm-4pm)
stage in the recovery process of a joint (or muscle) after injury
(injured joints and muscles will usually offer a lesser degree of
flexibility than healthy ones)
(pre-adolescents are generally more flexible than adults) -
gender (females are generally more flexible than males) - one's ability
to perform a particular exercise (practice makes perfect)
commitment to achieving flexibility
restrictions of any clothing or equipment
The following internet
links have been
gleaned from personal communications
with information from
public institutions and athletic
that have a web presence with information concerning team
materials are copy protected.
The limited use of the
materials for education purposes is allowed providing
credit is given
for the source of the materials.