Does Your Flexibility In One Area = Flexibility In Another?
“If I’m getting more flexible in stretch A, shouldn’t I then be more flexible in stretch B?”
This is a very common but good question that is frequently asked (or at least often prevalent in most of our minds) at some stage whilst do a stretching routine.
It’s a good question because if you don’t know the answer, a lot of bad things will happen when it comes to your flexibility and training in general – including:
> You will do a plethora of stretches but the target area of most restriction will likely never improve and stay restricted!
> You will spend all your time in a stretch, but it will do nothing for your flexibility in the position you’re actually looking to trying to achieve!
> There will be little to no carryover to the main sport or activity you’re looking to improve.
> You will get extremely frustrated and likely quit trying to loosen up those painfully tight areas of the body because everything you’re doing isn’t working!
Hence, discovering the answer to this burning question is not just for the curious of mind – it will save a lot of people like you, of a lot of time, frustration and pain!
Knowing the answer will not only do wonders for your specific stretches and flexibility goals, it will also do wonders to all your other physical training (be it strength, speed, or endurance ) when applied correctly.
So does flexibility in one area equal flexibility in another?
The short answer is both yes and no – here is what you need to know specifically to answer this question for yourself on every occasion:
‘How specific and similar is the stretch I’m doing, to that of the positions or movements I’m looking to improve?’
This is the principle of specificity and it means a lot more than what people give it credit for or pay attention to.
Most people know of specificity in regards to the type of training they do – for instance, increased swimming practice will generally make you a better swimmer.
However, few people realise that the specific type of movement and joint angles they want to improve also need to be trained specifically.
Flexibility (like strength, speed and endurance) is joint- and muscle-specific.
An example will explain this better –
Let’s say you can do a full side split as per below:
Will this help you to do a front split?
If we look at the muscle groups involved in both of these stetches, we can see that some of the same muscles are stretched (e.g. hamstrings), but some are not (e.g. hip flexors).
Although both of these stretches heavily involve the hips, the joint angles and trajectories for both stretches are starkly different – one involves a lot of hip opening in the frontal plane (side split) whilst the other requires a lot of hip opening in the sagittal plane (front split).
Hence, there is some transfer of the training effect between the two splits because some muscles are stretched by both of them— however, this is not to the same degree.
Here is a simpler illustration to demonstrate specificity amongst stretches and related carry over between them:
The prayer stretch + front split: No specificity = no carry over between these stretches.
The side split + front split: some specificity = some carry over between these stretches.
The lunge stretch + front split: high specificity = high carry over between these stretches.
If you’re wondering why certain stretches are not helping other positions you’re looking to improve or transferring to a given activity, it’s highly likely they are not specific enough.
Specificity is extremely important and a key determinant of whether your training will achieve what you want it to.
As alluded to earlier, this principle’s application is not just restricted to joint and muscle specificity, the carry over you get from one activity or position to another is also determined by the loading, speed and type of contraction you are applying.
As a starting basis to getting more out of your stretching right now, concern yourself mostly with the joint and muscular specificity of the stretches you are doing relative to what you are looking to improve. If you miss this, everything else you do won’t make much difference.
So many of us try to throw the kitchen sink at our goals without realising it lacks channelled focus of effort and energy to the most important areas that will yield the biggest results.
Flexibility training is no different! You need to get knowledgeable about how certain areas of the body and training techniques are closely related, whilst others are not.
If you’re applying yourself diligently but you’re only winding up tired, frustrated, in pain or simply in stagnation with your progress, then chances are there is a knowledge gap.
If you’re looking for a more targeted stretching routine specifically designed to deal with your unique restrictions, pains, and goals in mind, then get in touch with us today.
No matter what your level, or where your body is currently at, we will meet you there.
One of our expert coaches can assess you and then help you with a personally designed routine and roadmap to take all of the guesswork out of the equation for you.
You will follow our proven sequence and systems to get your target areas not only feeling better, but also performing better too.
Reach out to one of our expert coaches today to see if you’re a good fit for our program and a specifically tailored plan to fast-track your goals whilst removing all the pain and frustration!
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