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Office of Work-Life Programs (CG-111) -
Coast Guard Athleticism Program

Flexibility

Traditionally when people prepare to train they enter into a routine that primarily consists of a mixture of stretching, as well as a form of general activity to warm up tissue before engaging in activity.

Stretching is an important part of any warm up or cool down. It is vital for injury prevention, muscle recovery, optimizing muscle gains and increasing flexibility. However, there are different types of stretching, and each affects your body in different ways. That being said, it is important to understand how, and when to use different types of stretching.

Static stretching, holding a stretch for a long duration of time, works by sending a message to the muscle saying, "shut this tightness off," ultimately forcing the muscle to release and relax. Whether you are preparing to train or begin work on your operational platform, movement requires dynamic, fluid action. By holding long static stretches right before a bout of activity, you are effectively shutting off the muscles when you need them the most, making the upcoming physical demands harder on the body. It's not that static stretching is a bad idea; it can be a great tool when done correctly and at the appropriate time.

Static stretching is best used post-workout or at the end of the day to elongate the muscle and connective tissue, while turning off the nervous system (your brain and the nerves running to and from your muscles). It is also effective on recovery emphasis days, as long static holds help to produce long-term changes in the fascia (the band of elastic tissue that envelops the body, beneath the skin), ultimately improving muscle balance and flexibility.

Activities that are done to "warm up," or increase your body's temperature are often done without a specific purpose in mind, except of course to "warm up," or sweat. You may see people ride a stationary bike or go for a light jog for 5 minutes. There is nothing wrong with riding a stationary bike or going for a light run, as long as there is a purpose for it. You need to ask yourself this question: Is a light ride on a stationary bike appropriate for a Sailor who is warming up for multidirectional movements?

Instead of passive static stretching, the movements prescribed in regeneration will use Active-Isolated Stretching (AIS) to reprogram your muscles to contract and relax through new ranges of motion, working to increase your flexibility.

This type of flexibility work can be done using an 8- to 10-foot length of rope or no equipment at all. The movements that you perform will allow you to isolate the muscle to be stretched. You won't hold stretches 10 to 30 seconds, as in traditional stretching; instead, you'll use the rope to gently assist the muscle's range of motion about 10- to 20-percent farther than your body would ordinarily allow and only hold 1-2 seconds.

As you stretch the muscle, you will exhale, releasing tension and getting a deeper stretch, actively moving your body through its full range of motion - then giving gentle assistance.

90/90 Shoulder Hip Flexor/Quad World's Greatest Stretch
Adductor Thoracic Rotation (Bretzel) Inverted Hamstring
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Last Modified 1/13/2014