The range of motion available at a joint or group of joints is measured as flexibility. It is determined the by the shape of the bones and cartilage in the joint, and by the length and extensibility of muscles, tendons, ligament, and fascia that cross the joint. The range of movement at a joint may vary. In some cases, the joint will not bend or straighten and is said to be tight or stiff or to have contractures. The deformed hand of an arthritis is an example of this extreme. At the other end of the spectrum, a high degree of flexibility is referred to as loose jointedness, hypermobility, or erroneously, as double- jointedness. An example of this extreme is the contortionist seen at the circus. Each person, depending upon his or her individual needs, must have a reasonable amount of flexibility to perform efficiently and effectively in daily life. Stretching is a type of physical activity done with the intent of improving flexibility. There are many types of stretching exercise designed to promote or maintain flexibility.
The Facts about Flexibility:
Flexibility is a component of health–related physical fitness. It is a state of being. Stretching is the primary technique used to improve the state of one’s flexibility.
The range of motion (ROM) in a joint determines one’s flexibility. Having long muscles and tendons allows a greater range of joint movement and for this reason, it is important to have good flexibility. Together, the muscles and tendon are referred to as a muscle-tendon unit (MTU). When you stretch a muscle, you also place a stretch at tendon, and vice-versa. Technically, it would be correct to refer to stretching the MTU rather than muscle alone. However, for ease of understanding muscle stretching rather than MTU stretching will be used.
It is not known that how much flexibility a person should have in a joint?There are norms available that list how hundreds of subjects of various ages, of both sexes, and in many walks of life have performed on different tests. A scientific evidence indicates that a person who can reach 2 inches past his or her toes on a sit-and–reach test is less fit than a person who can reach 8 inches past the toes. Too much flexibility could be as detrimental as too little.
Arthritis and calcium deposits can damage a joint, and inflammation can cause pain that prevents movement. Failure to move a joint regularly through a full range of motion can lead to a shortening of muscles and ligaments. Static positions held for long periods, such as in poor working postures, and when a body part is immobilized by a cast, can lead to loss of mobility and shortened tissue. Improper exercise that overdevelops one muscle group while neglecting the opposing group results in an imbalance that restricts flexibility. For example, body builders who overdevelop their biceps in comparison to the triceps develop a muscle–bound look that is characterized by a restricted range of motion in the elbow joint.
In some families, the trait for loose joints passes from generation to generation. The hypermobility is sometimes referred to as joint looseness. Studies show that people with this trait may be more prone to dislocated patellas. There is no research evidence for this, but some experts believe that those with hypermobility or laxity may be more susceptible to athletic or dance injuries, especially to the knee and ankle, and there may be a chance to develop premature osteoarthritis. One recent study found that subjects who were loose–jointed uses more energy in walking and jogging than those who were medium or tight–jointed. In the fifth century, Hippocrates noted the disadvantage of hyperextension of the elbow in archery. Because of the poor angle of muscle pull, the hyperextended position for elbows and knees is not in an efficient position to move. For example, it is difficult to perform push–ups when the elbows lock into hyperextension because extra effort is required to unlock the joint. Extra care should be given for loose-jointed people to strengthen the muscle around the joint which is mostly used for movement.