Over many decades there has been a prevailing misconception in strength & conditioning circles that regular flexibility training, or stretching, when included in strength & conditioning programs will help:
1. Minimise, or even prevent the delayed onset of muscle soreness that often follows strength & conditioning sessions.
2. Aid in the prevention of many of the commonly occurring soft tissue injuries experienced in sporting activities.
Extensive research and experience in this field, gathered over more than thirty years by this commentator has revealed that these misconceptions are exactly that, misconceptions.
There are however mitigating factors which contribute significantly to this being the case, and that flexibility & mobility principles could in fact be utilised to greater effect when the following ideals are sought with increased purpose.
1. Many athletes, whether professionally dedicated to a specific sport, or those who are involved for only personal performance reasons, do not commit to their stretching requirements as is necessary to produce improvements, displaying no perceivable signs of effort. More purpose and application is essential.
2. This is quite possibly due to the fact that flexibility & mobility increases do not show up as readily as do increases in strength and conditioning practices. It is not uncommon to see "athletes" stretch half-heartedly, while staring off into space, and completing stretching activities in 5 to 10 minutes.
3. The overall ineffectiveness of many of the currently employed flexibility delivery techniques, those that have mistakenly existed to achieve the desired/perceived level of injury prevention.
The view in this commentary, following on from 3 above, is that when flexibility programs are designed, even in this modern era of Exercise Physiology, Sports Science and Biomechanics, the specific application techniques, and actual moves chosen are one-size-fits-all, and therefore functionally inappropriate. Just as functional strength & conditioning concepts differ from one sport/activity to another, and depending on physical and biomechanical intensity needs, so too do these principles apply to flexibility & mobility training.
The foremost consideration when programming flexibility & mobility schedules trainers/programmers should consider, are the loads exerted on athletes when they are performing their sports/activities. That is to say, soft tissue injuries occur under load in the execution of that sport/activity, not when athletes are passively standing, preparing to compete, or waiting to again be involved in play. Which is the most usually applied current stretching scenario. In no circumstance are athletes viewed completing flexibility/mobility moves whilst in training under loads of any kind.
Therefore, it is pointless applying the common, everyday, unloaded stretching techniques to athletes whose soft tissue injuries occur in situations where severe loads are produced. Consequently, exercise trainers/programmers should apply loaded flexibility/mobility moves using tri-planar, multi-dimensionally exerted loading concepts & techniques. (BODII-Advantage Through Adaptation III-Consolidating BODII concepts & techniques).