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Flexibility & Mobility

Welcome to another enlightening session of The Unlimited You, where we delve into the essential elements that contribute to a limitless lifestyle. In this episode, we’re joined by Andy Freebird, a seasoned martial artist with an extensive background in Taekwondo and a deep understanding of human kinetics. Together, we explore the significance of flexibility and mobility, especially in the realm of martial arts, and how these two elements can drastically improve your performance and reduce the risk of injury.

Flexibility vs. Mobility: Understanding the Difference

Flexibility and mobility are often used interchangeably, but they are distinct concepts with unique benefits. Flexibility refers to the ability of your muscles to stretch passively through a range of motion. Imagine holding a static stretch, like reaching for your toes and feeling the tension along your hamstrings—that’s flexibility at work.

Mobility, on the other hand, is the active use of your muscles to move a joint through its full range of motion. It’s not just about stretching muscles; it’s about controlling and stabilizing your movements. This is crucial for martial artists who need to execute high kicks and maintain balance.

The Role of Small Muscles in Mobility

Our discussion reveals that small muscles play a pivotal role in mobility. As you work on improving your flexibility, you begin to engage and strengthen these smaller muscle groups, which are often neglected. These muscles are essential for stabilizing joints and facilitating smoother, more controlled movements.

Stretching Techniques: Dynamic, Static, and Ballistic

In martial arts training, we emphasize various stretching techniques. Dynamic stretching involves movement, such as leg swings, to prepare the muscles for action. Static stretching is holding a position for an extended period, like the splits. Ballistic stretching, which is less commonly used in our training, incorporates dynamic movement with an added bouncing motion to push the muscles slightly beyond their comfort zone.

The Science Behind Effective Stretching

Recent studies suggest that to increase flexibility, stretches should be held for a minimum of 40 seconds and repeated three to four times, with sessions as infrequent as once a week showing significant progress. This method allows the tissues to lengthen and adapt over time, improving overall flexibility.

The Benefits of Heat and Humidity in Flexibility Training

Anecdotes from the episode highlight the accelerated benefits of practicing flexibility and mobility exercises in a warm environment, such as hot yoga.