Using walking movements to increase flexibility

In the last issue, I explained what movement flexibility was and how important it is your process to create power and speed.

I also mentioned that there are various movement exercises that athletes can use before they begin their real workout. Having said that, I believe most athletes who have not participated in a REAL strength and conditioning program (for example, a local gym workout or the old drills and exercises that coaches use) should perform walking movement flexibility drills.

Why? Because the strength coach can watch and the athlete can feel if there are any movement restrictions. I usually have athletes perform between 8-10 walking stretching exercises over 10yds. and back.

Here are some examples: Walking Hip to Chest stretch - Stand tall and lift bent leg to chest. Give it a pull up to chest and go up on toes on standing leg to lengthen stretch. This will stretch your buttocks and lower back.

Opposite hand to foot kick- Stand tall and kick one leg up as high as possible and touch toes with opposite hand. Repeat other side. Do not round back or push your head forward. This will stretch your hamstring.

Quad. stretch- Stand tall and bring heel to butt. Grab onto foot with same side hand. Now lift up opposite hand and go on toes on standing leg to lengthen stretch. This will stretch your quadricep or thigh.

Backward lunge- Step backward as long as possible. Keep chest and trunk tall. Try to keep knee of front leg bent and in line with your ankle bone. Drop down your butt of front leg and do not touch back knee to ground. For more stretch lift arms overhead. This will stretch your muscles of your hip flexor,abdominal and lower back if tight.

Perform these for 10yds. and back. Because these exercises require you to balance, the small balancing muscles of the standing leg are forced to work. So, if you notice that you cannot stretch one side well, it could mean that the balancing muscles of the standing leg are weak and tight as well. Thus inhibiting you to get a full stretch on the stretching leg. Trunk weakness may also be involved. This will cause the athlete to round his/her back instead of standing tall during the exercises.

That is why working on these movements to lengthen tissue, strengthen balancing muscles and strengthen core (trunk) muscles will help the athlete be more conscience of his/her movements. After the athlete can perform the 8-10 exercises well, then you should be able to add more movement preparation exercises.

Stay tuned for the next issue which will address ground based movement warmup exercises.

Thanks for reading,

Andy