FLEXIBILITY IN RUNNING
This topic was discussed on our forum already and an article was written, nevertheless, we are returning to this theme again because new questions are raised.
The essence of these questions is:
- Is flexibility equal to stretching?
Flexibility is defined as our ability to bend in our joints.
It has 3 major parts:
- Mobility of joints.
- Elasticity of ligaments and tendons.
- Muscles relaxation, providing their lengthening ("stretching").
All three parts require a separate approach and development in one single body. Stretching is a wrong name for flexibility, because the meaning of it is to forcefully pull muscles, tendons and ligaments, which is not in our body's nature.
Muscles' relaxation is a state of our mind, and so is flexibility.
- Does flexibility influence running positively?
Yes, of course, but it happens indirectly.
- Does flexibility increase speed or endurance of running?
No, it doesn't help any of these.
- Does flexibility prevent injuries?
Not exactly, but it certainly helps as a part of proper movement.
- Could one have too much flexibility?
One can't have too much of any biomotor abilities. We shouldn't confuse flexibility with too loose joints, where our muscles do not have enough tone and coordination to hold our joints stable. Gymnasts, karatists, Olympic (classical) weight lifters are very flexible, but they have tremendous strength, as well.
- Does flexibility increase our chances of getting injured?
The main source of injuries is wrong movement. If the reason for this is lack of flexibility, then it does.
- Why do we need flexibility?
It is a part of maintaining the body in a functional condition (ability to move well), where the mobility of joints, elasticity of tendons and ligaments, relaxation of muscles play a very important role.
- When should we do flexibility exercises in training?
Usually I recommend doing flexibility exercises after running, particularly for muscles, or in a separate session devoted just to flexibility exercises. Before a running session or a race, it sometimes makes sense to do joints mobility and easy elasticity exercises for tendons and ligaments as a part of warm up together with running drills.
- Do we have any restrictions for doing flexibility?
Not really, if we do not let it go out of proportion and overwhelmingly dominate over any of our other abilities, such as strength, speed or endurance.