Practical Science on Movement and Pain

Category Archives: flexibility

What is Your Movement Style?

Panjabi divided the motor control system for the spine into three distinct subsystems -  passive, active and neural. I like applying this idea to the whole body, partly because I find it an interesting way to distinguish different strategies for movement and posture, based on preferential use of one subsystem over the others. The passiveRead More

Barefoot Running, Squatting Like a Baby, and Pygmy Feet

I just came across a very interesting article on the tree climbing ability of pygmies and the extreme ankle flexibility that allows them to do it. I know, this is something you have always wondered about. I think it sheds some light on a couple of common debates relating to the impact of the modernRead More

Power at the End Range

In the previous post I discussed the idea that flexibility is generally overrated as a quality that promotes sports performance. In particular, I argued that: most sports do not involve extreme ranges of motion; most elite athletes in fact have only average flexibility; and quality of motion at a joint is usually far more importantRead More

Flexibility and Sports Performance

In this post I have put together a few semi random thoughts on flexibility and its relationship to sports performance and injury prevention. Flexibility defined Flexibility is basically the range of motion at a particular joint – how far it can move from A to B. I like to think of flexibility as the quantityRead More

Stretching Increases Strength in Contralateral Muscle

I am too busy right now to do any in depth posts, so here’s a quick little review of an interesting study I just read. I’ve written several times before on this blog about how unilateral exercise can have significant effects on the contralateral side. I find this interesting not just because it’s kind ofRead More

More on Flexibility and Running Economy

I have previously posted about some studies addressing the relationship between flexibility and running economy. The studies find that less flexibility correlates with greater running economy. The reason is probably that that elastic recoil of muscle and tendon is an important contributor to running power. Just as a golf ball will bounce higher and longer than a squash ball, a stiff runner willRead More

Flexibility and Running Economy

Not yoga class In a previous post I argued that flexibility is often massively overrated as a desirable physical quality for sports performance. Nowhere is this point more clear than in the case of running economy, as shown by a few recent studies. Running economy basically means efficiency – a runner with better economy usesRead MoreRead More

Should You Stretch a Sore Muscle?

What is the first thing you do when a muscle is tight and sore? Stretch it right? The point of this post is to say: don’t do that. There is a good chance you will just make the problem worse, not better. Structure vs. Function Before getting into why, I first want to define someRead More

Is Flexibility Important?

Good warm up? As a rolfer, I see many clients who tell me that one of their main goals is to increase flexibility. They seem ashamed of their lack of flexibility and feel guilty that they don’t do more stretching. (This is usually right after starting a yoga class.) They are surprised to hear thatRead More

The Central Nervous System

One of the most important things to understand about your body is that it is largely governed by the central nervous system (the “CNS”.)  The CNS is composed of your brain, the spinal cord and the nerves.  It is a lightning fast communication system that controls every aspect of your sensation and movement. The CNSRead More