Defining Dynamic Flexibility

Rosaura Eames, Tue 31 January 2017, Tue 31 January 2017, Health news

There are several aspects of flexibility that are important for climbers to work and maintain. The bottom line is flexibility improves your climbing by enabling increased ranges of motion and helping to prevent injuries. It's something that many people skip over, take for granted or just plain ignore. But understanding the different types of flexibility, how to improve them, and why you need buy codeine online them will yield great results for a climber.

Let's start by defining dynamic vs. static flexibility. Dynamic flexibility is the ability to perform dynamic movements of the muscles to bring a limb through its full range of motion in the joints. In other words, it's flexibility while the body's in motion - like when it's climbing. Static flexibility is the ability to assume and maintain extended positions using either the strength of your own muscles ("static-active") or the weight of your body, with relaxed muscles ("static-passive"). The flexibility employed while climbing is a combination of dynamic & static-active. All three types of flexibility complement each other, so working each of them is important for anyone who wants to improve their overall flexibility and climbing ability.

Dynamic flexibility is what you're working when you move through any extended range of motion and don't hold any particular position - most of what you do while climbing. Improving dynamic flexibility can be achieved by performing calisthenics like squat jumps, high step-ups, dips on a bench (feet on the floor) or pull-ups - as long as you're going through your joints' full ranges of motion during each exercise. A good calisthenic warm-up before every climbing session will help to increase your ability to achieve extended positions while climbing, and greatly reduce your risk of injury.

Static-active requires the passive flexibility to assume a given position, and also requires muscular strength to maintain that position, like lifting your leg high and holding it there. Your hamstring must be flexible enough to allow your leg to be in an elevated position - like a high heel-hook - and your quads & hip flexors must be strong enough to lift your leg there in the first place. So active exercises that take your body through extended ranges of motion (like leg raises and knee raises in various positions) will improve this type of flexibility.

Static-passive flexibility can be improved through what we typically think of when we think of stretching - assuming positions like a forward bend and then staying there with relaxed muscles, allowing our body weight to provide the deepening of the stretch. Practicing yoga is a very effective way to achieve both active and passive flexibility, as the poses are typically a combination of engaged and relaxed positions.

It's also good to note that there is a distinction between temporary and permanent flexibility. Each time you stretch, the soft tissues are temporarily elongated and their passive tension (how tight the tissue is while at rest) is decreased. That elongation is primarily temporary. This is why you have increased range of motion after stretching for awhile, but then that extra flexibility seems to disappear a few hours later. However, it hasn't entirely disappeared; each time you stretch you maintain a little bit of that flexibility, and in the long term regular static stretching will bring about permanent increase in static ROM, or permanent flexibility. That's why it's so important to maintain a regular stretching routine - consistency results in long term gains.

So, how do you obtain all these varieties of flexibility? Most research has shown that too much passive flexibility immediately prior to activity can actually increase your risk of injury. As you get more limber in a particular joint, less support is given to the joint by its surrounding muscles; there is a tradeoff between flexibility and stability. It is generally recommended that you engage in active and dynamic stretches before activity, and reserve deep passive stretching for post-activity and rest days. I recommend performing 20 minutes of active and dynamic stretching (like finger and forearm static stretches, elastic band exercises and calisthenics) prior to each climbing or strength session. I also recommend 45 minutes or more of yoga (or a routine that includes both active and passive stretching) 2 days per week. Hold passive stretches for a minimum of 30 seconds to get the most gains. I also like to end training sessions with 20 minutes of primarily passive stretching.

As climbers, we need to give special consideration to specific areas of the body that may not initially come to mind when we think of stretching and improving flexibility. When performing your stretches, give special attention to fingers, forearms, pectorals (chest), shoulders (in all ranges of motion), neck/scalenes(front of neck), hips and hip flexors, groin, spine (I like gentle twists and supported backbends for the spine) wrists and ankles.

A note on the neck: We've all heard of (any probably experienced) "belayer's neck". Belayer's neck is basically tightness, tension and soreness in the muscles of the neck that comes from looking up for a long time. We look up not only while belaying our partners, but also when previewing a route from the ground, and of course while climbing. Steeper routes and boulder problems compromise our necks to an even greater degree as we perform strenuous movements while supporting the weight of our heads at a relatively unnatural angle. As a sufferer of whiplash, a climber addicted to steep terrain, and a trainer/coach who regularly belays clients and partners alike, I have a lot of experience with neck pain and problems. Whether or not you have neck issues, I highly recommend incorporating a few neck stabilization exercises into your routine (before or after climbing) to keep yours healthy and strong. My regimen takes only a few minutes and incorporates slow neck rolls and head turns, supermans over a fitball to strengthen the back of the neck (lie face down with your chest on a fitball, raise your head and arms slightly to look like superman flying), and 1-2 minutes of isometric resistance exercises (lying on the floor face up, use your hands to apply pressure to your head in different directions, use your head/neck muscles resist the motion - keep your head in place; it's also nice to have a partner do this for you - they try to move your head and you resist).

In addition to increasing flexibility, stretching also offers the benefit of mental relaxation - a good way to end your session, clear your mind, prepare for whatever's next on your list that day. I hope that you'll find some enjoyment and peace of mind in your stretching!!