Why being flexible is useless
What do you mean being flexible is useless?!
Doesn’t it allow me to get into better positions? To move more efficiently? To stay injury-free? To be, well, more fit?
Not really. Well, maybe, but only sort of. What I mean to say is flexibility ON ITS OWN is pretty useless.
Flexibility is defined as the passive range of motion or the ability to maximise the range of motion of any given joint. This can just easily be translated to a Useless range of motion.
Practically speaking, what this means is if you have been doing yoga for years and you’re the girl whose crotch can touch the ground when she does a lunge, this doesn’t mean you have functional, or useful, range of motion. Similarly, if you can bend over and wrap your head under your pelvis and lick your bum, it’s probably nothing more than a cute party trick (depending on who your friends are).
The point is being flexibility is really only useful for life, and for fitness, if you also have STRENGTH in your far end ranges of motion. Alas, here’s the key: Flexibility, combined with strength, is what will help you prevent injuries and more efficiently and functionally.
So it’s time to start getting stronger in positions where you’re currently weak—your end range. It means you need to spend time in the deepest part of your squat or the deepest part of your ring dip, for example, in order to gain strength there.
Two types of stretching that will help you achieve this include:
PNF, or proprioreceptive neuromuscular facilitation, involves both stretching and contraction of the muscle group being targeted. It’s also called contract-relax stretching and it often it’s done as a partner stretch.
PNF stretching was first developed as a form of rehabilitation but is also really useful for increasing both flexibility and strength. Read more about it here.
Here’s a good Kelly Starrett video that explains more, as well:
Similar to PNF stretching, loaded stretching involves stretching while contracting a muscle group. The concept is quite simple: Stretching a muscle while contracting it helps build strength in that range of motion.
Read more about loaded stretching here.
Here’s a video of a loaded front rack stretch as well.
Time to become more than just uselessly flexible!