III. Flexibility and Benefits
Benefits Derived from Flexibility Training
- An increase in range of motion
- Reduction of low-back pain and injury
- Reduction in the incidence and severity of injury
- Improvement in posture and muscle symmetry
- Delay in the onset of muscular fatigue
- Prevention and alleviation of muscle soreness after exercise
- Increase in the level of certain skills and muscular efficiency
- Promotion of mental relaxation
- Personal enjoyment and gratification
Here are some practical pointers for developing a sound flexibility program:
- Flexibility exercises should be done regularly. Similar to strength, it is important to stretch various muscle groups in the arms, legs and back. There are many books on the market that contain hundreds of different flexibility exercises. Have the person select the exercises he or she enjoys, photocopy each picture, and make a booklet so that the person can perform the exercises several times during the day while watching television (during commercials) or listening to the radio.
- Each stretch should last approximately 10 to 15 seconds. Initially, this will feel like a long time, but once the person becomes conditioned, he or she will have an easier time performing the exercises.
- Perform each flexibility exercise three times. Always stretch to the point of discomfort but never to the point of pain. Pain should not be felt during any flexibility exercise. Explain to the person that he or she should feel a little tightness, but never pain.
- Make sure the breath is not held while performing the stretch. Teach the person to breathe normally while performing the exercises.
- Persons with cerebral palsy will often need an extensive flexibility program. Spastic cerebral palsy is accompanied by extreme tightness in the joints, which can adversely affect movement and posture. Flexibility exercises should be performed at regular intervals during the day as often as possible. Six 5-minute routines is a good starting point.