Improve Athletic Performance: Functional Stretching
Functional flexibility is based on the science of movement. Human movement is tri-planar : infinite combinations of three basic directions ....forward to backward.....side to side.....and rotational. When walking, running, swinging a golf club or blocking at the line: our joints move and our muscles lengthen in all three of these directions in various amounts. Therefore it only makes sense that we stretch and strengthen in all three of these directions as well..this is functional strength training/functional stretching.
Traditional stretches that have been done for many years, handed down through the generations, typically stretch only one of the three planes. Most traditional stretches are performed in the front to back direction (the sagittal plane) .
For instance.... a traditional wall calf stretch: stretches the calf in one direction: forward but does not stretch in the side to side or rotational directions. The calf though does get lengthened in these other two directions as the foot enters in to the ground as you take a step.
When the heel hits the ground, it strikes on the outside of the heel and then tips inward (side to side motion) and the lower leg rotates inward (rotational motion). By using TRISTRETCH in the traditional calf stretching position, you can replicate the heel tilting and the lower leg rotating and therefore actually functionally stretch the calf in all three directions of motion, replicating how it is stretched when you walk and run.(See picture above). Therefore, better preparing the muscle to function as it needs to during your selected activity/sport.
These same functional tri-planar concepts can be applied to strength training and stretching of all of the muscles in the lower extremity and core. To learn more, Click Here.
See our next blog for more advantages of functional stretching and how it will improve your athletic performance.