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The body’s flexibility can be improved by carrying out a series of mobility exercises for the joints. Each joint should be exercised in turn and can be stretched or moved to just beyond its point of resistance. For improvement to take place, the stretch should be held for 8 to 10 seconds, and the mobility exercises should be carried out for at least 10 minutes. To be fully effective the mobility exercises should be carried out approximately three times per week.
There are two main types of flexibility exercises.
1. Static stretching: this is moving the joint to beyond its point of resistance and holding the position still for 8 to 10 seconds. This can be done in either a passive or active manner. Passive stretching is when a partner forces the performer to stretch the joint (see Photo 3.6); active stretching is when the performer forces the joint on his own (see Photos 3.4 and 3.5).
2. Ballistic stretching: this uses momentum to move a body part at the joint.
Exercises such as arm swinging, bouncing, twisting and turning are ballistic moves.
Take great care with ballistic exercises.
They should be attempted only by those with a good degree of flexibility.
The advantages of flexibility training are that:
- it is cheap and easy to do
- little equipment is needed
- exercises can be done alone
- not a lot of space is needed