Have you ever tried to bring your leg up in the air only to find that you are not as flexible as when you are lying on the floor? Or tried a gymnastics position like the V-sit or the Straddle L only to feel there is no way you can possibly do that?
Many people will be surprised that there are 3 types of flexibility. While they have probably train them all, knowing a little bit their differences and benefits will help them with clarity about what they need in order to reach their goals. For example, if you know that you have weak hip flexors and tight hamstrings, that may give you a hint about what you need in order to gain the front split passively, and focusing in what you lack will be ten times more beneficial than just keep trying until you get frustrated. Let’s see what I mean:
Is it the type of flexibility required during a dynamic movement, where you use the range of motion of the joint, with the relaxation of the muscles being extended and the contraction of the moving muscles. It involves repetitions and movement, and it is helpful for high kicks, throwing balls or doing jumping splits.
It requires reaching and/or holding a range of motion using only the tension from the antagonist and synergist muscles while the agonist are being stretched. For example, if you are standing and try to hold you leg in front of you, the hamstrings (besides others) are being stretched and the strength to hold the leg up is coming from the hip flexors. It relies on passive flexibility and the strength of the stabilizers of the position. It helps in practices like ballet or gymnastics.
It is the ability to reach and hold extended positions using your own weight, an external weight or the strength of different muscles from the ones being stretched, something which allows relaxation.
All types of flexibility depend on our passive range of motion. While training the latter will open general potential for range of motion, it is necessary to train the specific type of flexibility that we want to in order to develop it.
If you’d like to know more about these topics, I recommend the work of Kit Laughlin and Thomas Kurz
Kinema Project products
–Pliable body (Get flexible fast!)
–The Dynamic Structure (Bulletproof your joints!)