Flexibility is the key to injury prevention and skill development.
Have you ever bent over and tried to touch toes with straight legs? For most of us that is not an easy task to accomplish. If you tried to do that stretch multiple times a day every day for a month you might find yourself a little bit closer to your toes, but not quite all the way down. Flexibility is not something all of our tumblers will naturally be gifted with, and most will really have to work for it. That said – strength also plays a big role. Strength limits flexibility, but helps an athlete to accomplish skills. I like to think of strength and flexibility the same way we think of yin and yang. Both are needed to be a successful tumbler, however most athletes are more dominant in one area over the other. For that reason, our coaches are great at recognizing the weakness and helping athletes overcome them.
Have you ever tried accomplishing a new skill or activity? It is not that easy to do the first time around. Learning new things takes time and patience. It also takes lots of practice and dedication, which is the same for flexibility. Few athletes will just wake up one day and be able to do their splits perfectly or be able do a standing backbend, so tumblers have to practice their flexibility every single day both in class and at home. In order to obtain and maintain flexibility, you need to make it part of your daily routine. A great time to stretch is right when you wake up in the morning. This will help wake up your body and will improve your flexibility at the same time. Another great time to stretch is right before you go to bed. This will help relax your body, make it easier for you to sleep and can lead to a more peaceful rest. Stretch every single day, and with time stretching will be part of your daily routine.
When you hear the word balance what do you think? I think about an even distribution which promotes stability, this statement holds true even when we talk about strength and flexibility. Good tumblers need both of these things to be successful. The problem is that a majority of people are strong and lack flexibility or are weak but have great flexibility. As coaches, knowing what areas our tumblers lack in will help us develop their skills by catering to their weaker areas. Balance of these two items is NOT achieved overnight, it has to be worked on everyday. Working towards achieving this balance will help improve our tumblers ability to achieve greatness.
Flexibility has a multitude of benefits but the greatest benefit in my opinion is injury prevention. People who are more flexible are less prone to injury. Now you might say, “WHY IS THAT?” Injuries to our athletes bodies happen because they do something to their body that it is unable to handle then the get injured. Ankle sprains and sore backs can be prevented or less likely to happen when our athletes are more flexible. A flexible body is able to bend and move in ways that people who are not flexible can not do. This is how flexible bodies are less injury prone. Take advantage of that fact; have your child stretch everyday – in fact – stretch with him or her. You’ll both find this as a huge benefit!
This blog was written by Coach Patrick Davison, Director of Tumbling at Twister Sports.