In my last blog I discussed the stability/mobility kinetic chain that exists within an athlete’s body. As I mentioned before, the joints in a body alternate between being inherently in need of stability or mobility, as each mobile joint needs a stable one in order to move effectively. But having this information is just the first step, as you now need to know how to improve the stability and mobility throughout your body. There are a number of ways to improve the stability and mobility throughout your body and I’m going to mention a few ways which I have utilized in the past to help improve my lower half, including some which I have recently seen athletes at the Texas Baseball Ranch include into their workouts.
Over the course of the last few years I have become more and more attuned to the importance of both stability and mobility in athletes. Being a former pitcher, I really tried to focus on the specific areas of stability and mobility which could help my performance in throwing a baseball. However, all athletes could stand to gain some stability or mobility in different joints throughout their body.
As I find myself in the middle of the summer I think back to the many baseball games I played throughout past summers. Whether it was Little League All-Stars, select teams in high school, or the summers in college playing in New England, North Carolina, and Cape Cod, I spent a hefty portion of my life playing ball during the summer time. This is far from rare as the common thought in baseball is that if you are serious about the sport you will play year around. Summer ball into fall ball into the regular spring season and so on.
My father and I returned from a two week trip to Taiwan and China this past Sunday after attending the TaiSpo and Canton Fair sports manufacturer conventions. We had a number of memorable experiences during our trip to Asia including climbing the Great Wall of China, but one thing that has stood out in my mind since we returned home was our night watching a flying acrobatic show in Beijing. During the hour and a half show, we witnessed 9 girls riding one bike, male acrobats jumping and flipping through different sized rings at different heights, a number of juggling acts, and acrobats holding one another in gravity defying positions.
Now that we have discussed flexibility and its importance to athletes we can focus on the ways to increase it. But before I delve into the different types of stretching it is critical to note the importance of warming up the body first. Before an athlete can properly stretch his muscles they must first be warm. Generally a good warm up will increase an athlete's body temperature at least 1 degree while simultaneously raising the heart rate. This will lather up an athlete's body as the blood begins to circulate throughout the muscles and serves as a notice that work is about to begin. The worst thing an athlete can do is stretch cold muscles. Not only is it a huge waste of time, as you will not increase flexibility, but it can actually increase your risk of injury. A cold muscle is not as elastic as a warm one and asking it to elongate as you stretch can result in a muscle strain or tear.
Flexibility is fundamentally important to many athletic movements as your body's muscles and joints play a critical part in your athletic ability, performance, and durability. With that being said, athletes often cringe when they hear a coach or trainer mention the word flexibility. I know I used to. Immediately thoughts of tedious and painful hamstring, hip, and groin stretches come to mind. However, as an athlete there are many sacrifices you must make and exercises you must do that you aren't enthusiastic about. Working on your flexibility should be a task of the highest importance to all serious athletes.
Giant flat band resistance loops are fairly common in the sports and conditioning world. However, many people do not know just how versatile these bands can be. They can be used to assist stretching hamstrings, groin, hips, glutes, and quads. Others use them in the weight room as they wrap the bands around the ends of weight bars while doing exercises such as bench press and squats.
Oates Specialties is a family owned and operated business. Since starting the company in 2003 with baseball as its primary focus, Robert and Gloria Oates, along with their son Brian, have worked diligently to develop a line of quality athletic conditioning tools that is unparalleled. We hope you enjoy our product line, videos, and blog. Contact us if we can help you in any way!