Over the years, my thoughts on flexibility and range of motion have changed. From a formal education that touted static and passive stretching as a way to improve range of motion, I have received mixed results from this approach. Instead, it appears that functional movements through the full range of motion can serve to increase flexibility and muscle length far greater than holding a static position.
When it comes to lengthening a muscle, utilizing slow eccentric movements are king. This means controlling a movement with the desired tissue you want to stretch, as it is lengthened to the end-range. For example, when performing split squats or rear foot elevated split squats, the back leg essentially endures a great degree of lengthening in the quadriceps and hip flexors. Therefore, if we emphasize a slower and more controlled eccentric phase (lowering from the top down), we can keep the nervous system in full control of the movement to explore a greater range.
Are you someone who has always suffered from poor flexibility and range of motion? Watch the video below for a more detailed explanation of this concept.
By: Garrett McLaughlin, MS, ATC, CSCS, ART