by NSCA's Essentials of Personal Training, Second Edition
Kinetic Select May 2017
The following is an exclusive excerpt from the book NSCA's Essentials of Personal Training, Second Edition, published by Human Kinetics. All text and images provided by Human Kinetics.
Developing flexibility is an important goal of any training program. Achieving optimum flexibility helps eliminate awkward and inefficient movement by allowing joints to move freely through a full normal ROM, and it may also provide increased resistance to muscle injury (3, 22, 23, 24, 32, 36). Improving flexibility is a fundamental element of any training program because ROM may enhance the ability to perform various movement skills, especially those that require a high level of flexibility (i.e., serving a tennis ball, picking up a bag of groceries off the floor) (4, 8, 9, 30, 37, 42, 47). It is important to note that while great athletes may have above-average flexibility, this may not be why they are successful. The ability to move effectively depends on strength with coordination, and being flexible can enhance this ability in certain situations (14). The goal of flexibility training is not to get to a point at which the client has no joint stability, but rather to achieve strength combined with flexibility that can allow the client to better control his or her movements (14).
Flexibility training is also important in injury prevention (4, 8, 9, 10, 20, 25, 30, 32, 37, 42, 47). Among the more common problems seen in individuals with poor flexibility is lower back pain potentially resulting from tight quadriceps, iliopsoas, and back muscles (and possibly a corresponding weakness in the abdominal muscles and hamstrings). A lack of flexibility may also increase the incidence of muscle tears resulting from tight muscles on one or both sides of a joint (9). The accepted rule regarding the role of flexibility in injury prevention is that a normal ROM (i.e., the ROM common to most individuals) in each joint will reduce the chance for injury (10). If a client is involved in a sport or activity that requires greater than normal ROM, then more emphasis should be placed on increasing flexibility to help protect against injury.
Because of these important benefits, it is recommended that trainers supervise stretching just as they would any other part of the training session. Doing this communicates the importance of the warm-up and stretching period and may encourage clients to keep their attention focused on the task at hand (25).
Flexibility training is important because of the role that flexibility plays in improving movement performance and reducing the opportunity for injury.
NSCA’s Essentials of Personal Training, Second Edition, is the authoritative text for personal trainers, health and fitness instructors, and other fitness professionals as well as the primary preparation source for those taking the NSCA-CPT exam. The book is available in bookstores everywhere, as well as online at the NSCA Store.