by Christine Al Hakeem PT
Flexibility is the ability of the muscle to move in a full non-restricted, pain-free range of motion (ROM), and keeping your muscles flexible is just as important as keeping them strong. (Kisner, 1990)
Short muscles are not going to be as powerful as long flexible muscles, and do not have the length of ROM that long muscles have. So lacking flexibility will not allow muscle to perform at optimal levels.
Types of Stretches
There are several stretching methods that help improve flexibility. They are:
- Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation (PNF).
Static stretching: This is most commonly used, and is when an individual moves a certain body part in a way that allows the muscle to slowly elongated, followed by holding that position for a period of time. This can be done actively by using the individuals own muscles to hold the stretch, or passively by using an external force (e.g. therapist, or a doorway) to hold the stretch.
Dynamic Stretching: Involves the movement of the individual’s limbs in an organized pattern to increase the range of motion. The individual does not exceed the limit of their ROM. Each sport has a different dynamic stretch depending on the movements that are involved in that sport.
Studies have shown that dynamic stretches have been
more effective during warm ups than static stretching.
(Freund et al, 2016)
A study that compared static versus dynamic stretches on hamstrings
concluded that static stretching improves the flexibility of the muscles
while dynamic stretching helps in enhancing the quality of the performance
(Shaharuddin et al, 2015)
Ballistic stretching: involves a bouncing motion during a stretch. The individual uses the momentum of the body part to force a greater ROM in the joint. This is not commonly used because studies have shown that the muscle protects itself and reacts to vigorous stretches by getting tighter not looser. (Matheny, 1995, p. 102)
PNF Stretching: Most PNF techniques employ isometric agonist contraction and relaxation. In other words, the muscle being stretched contract isometrically (without shortening) and then relaxes and is stretched farther. Most common PNF techniques we use are: Hold-Relax, Contract-Relax, Hold-relax Agonist, Hold- Relax Antagonist.
Other studies that investigated the different stretches on muscles for exercises and
rehabilitation concluded that to increase the range of motion of a muscle, all stretches
are effective however PNF stretching is more effective for immediate gains.
(“Current concepts in muscle stretching for exercise and rehabilitation,” 2017)
Stretching should be an important part of any motorbike racer’s fitness regime.
Flexible, elongated muscles will help riders perform
at an optimal level for longer periods of time.
When to Stretch?
It is best to avoid vigorous stretching before activity, and that stretching decreases the results on performance tests that require isolated force or power. However regular stretches will improve the results for any activities. (Shrier, 2004)
Stretching should be consistent in order to get the best benefits for your muscles. Take time to stretch daily and make it part of your routine.
Here are some static and dynamic stretches to will help you prior to your next racing session.
Remember to inhale, exhale and relax!
Serratus Anterior Stretch: Hold pose for 30 seconds to 1 minute and repeat 3-5 times
Triceps stretch: Hold pose for 30 seconds to 1 minute and repeat 3-5 times
Biceps Stretch: Hold pose for 30 seconds to 1 minute and repeat 3-5 times
Abdominal Stretch: Hold pose for 30 seconds and repeat 3-5 times
Adductor Stretch: 10-12 repetitions
Quadriceps and adductor stretch: 10-12 repetitions