Movement and Flexibility Exercises
Physiotherapy is synonymous with good physical health and wellbeing. It is used for a variety of reasons including relaxation, to help with injury recovery and to strengthen the body. Physiotherapy however is not simply for overworked, injured athletes in need of quick, responsive treatment. It is also a great way for perfectly healthy individuals to increase their flexibility and range of motion in order to excel in their particular sport or fitness regime.
Flexibility is always particular to the sport in question. Rugby players and gymnasts have different kinds of flexibility that are important to achieve success in their respective sports. Just because a person can touch their toes does not mean they are flexible if they can’t reach around to scratch the small of their back. If a rugby player was to have the same flexibility as a gymnast then it would actually be detrimental to them because of the importance in rugby of it being a contact sport.
Treating static and dynamic flexibility
Flexibility in the body and physical activity is defined as the range of motion available in a joint, such as the hip or a series of joints such as the spine. When we talk about flexibility, we mean a joint or series of joints used to produce a particular movement as well as flexibility being both static and dynamic in nature. To improve flexibility, stretching is an integral part with many coaches and athletes already doing so as part of training regimes. Many teams however often apply stretching exercises and routines ineffectively and inaccurately.
Range of motion on the other hand is a measurement of the amount of movement around a specific joint or body part e.g. the ankle. It will most often be assessed during a physical therapy evaluation or during a course of treatment. Other aspects that will be measured during treatment can include strength, gait and balance as well as, of course, flexibility. Range of motion is normally measured using a device called a goniometer. This is a metal or plastic handheld device with two arms. A physiotherapist will line these arms up against a patient’s body so that, when prompted to move the body in a number of different directions, the amount of motion that occurs can then be measured. There are a number of range of motion exercises available including passive, active-assistive and active. All exercise methods are a great way for athletes to remain in prime condition for their particular sports.
Helping your joints and muscles remain loose and active
Range of motion exercises, like flexibility exercises, help to keep your joints and muscles active and loosened to ensure your activity level is unaffected. There are also a range of strengthening, general conditioning and balancing exercises that can be used to ensure you remain in peak condition. As the name suggests, strengthening exercises help to maintain the strength of your muscles to help you improve at your current sport. General Conditioning helps to improve muscle and joint flexibility and strength whilst Balance will naturally improve your movement and ability to stay on your feet in more physically demanding sports!
There are a number of sports where improved flexibility and range of motion exercises can be highly beneficial. One sport you may not instinctively think of is Golf. Although appearing to be relatively stationary, there is a significant amount of twisting and turning involved when driving, putting or chipping. Unless the proper precautions are taken, this could lead to future injuries or layoffs. A good example is the spate of injuries golfing legend Tiger Woods has suffered from in recent years. This goes to show that even a widely perceived luxurious and mesured game like golf can have a taxing effect on the body.
Other sports to consider as having a physically challenging toll on the body are the ones you would traditionally expect such as rugby, football, athletics, etc. These sports are of particularly high intensity, endurance and physicality therefore you always need to ensure you are careful and keep ahead of any injuries. You can do this via the exercises we have previously alluded to, to ensure your sports career, fitness regime or recreational activity is unaffected and you can continue to develop and improve.
At Healthsure Physiotherapy, we are committed to providing innovative, helpful treatment, administered by caring, professional staff.
Also published on Medium.