Lesson 13: Basic Principles of Sports Physiology (Part 4 of 7)


1. Adaptation

2. Endurance

3. Strength

4. Flexibility

5. Speed

6. Coordination

Flexibility plays an important role in sports as well as everyday life. It is the range of motion in a joint or group of joints. Flexibility determines how effectively joints can be moved through a complete range of motion. Distinctions are made between overall, specialized, active and passive flexibility (cf. Hollmann/Hettinger, 2000).

Overall flexibility: sufficient level of flexibility in the most important joint systems

Specialized flexibility: sufficient flexibility at a particular joint (specific to a type of sport)

Active flexibility: the range of motion a joint can achieve without assitance from an external force (i.e., most yoga stretches, such as a side-leaning stretch)  Additional distinctions are made between static and dynamic flexibility. Exercisers generally do active dynamic stretching during the warm-up phase of a workout.

Passive flexibility: the range of motion a joint can achieve with assistance from an external force (i.e., pressing or pulling near a joint, such as pressing above the elbow for a tricep stretch) Exercisers generally do passive static stretching during the cool down phase of a workout, though active static stretches are also common.

Passive flexibility leads to a greater range of motion than active.

Flexibility is important since it is required for a satisfactory execution of a movement, in terms of both its quality and quantity. (cf. Bös/Brehm, 2006)

A comprehensive physical training regimen should include flexibility training, as it can prevent limitations of mobility in everyday life and help mitigate existing pathological limitations of mobility.