How To Get Flexibility & Mobility Like Tom Daley

Written By Mike Ludwicki (Sports Massage Therapist West Chiropractic)

We all were ecstatic when Tom Daley and Matt Lee became Olympic Champions. We witness incredible performance, perfectly executed with stunning perfection. Let’s try to analyse what makes them that good. First, both are professional athletes training six days a week for few hours a day, so their muscles are used to work very hard. Secondly, they have been training from very young age conditioning tissues for years to come.  But what makes them so flexible? Well, as could be concluded from those statements – there are two factors that changes the tissues: time and load. In other words, if we put lots of load through the tissues over long periods of time, we can either grow them, make them stronger, have more stamina of flexibility. Getting flexible is not about the type of the exercises. There are thousands of different exercises all over the internet, they are easy to find. However, the important question is what we are going to do with any given stretch exercise. We are talking about finding right weight, reps, sets and rest between sets, number of sessions per week to get results we want. Let’s see what science is telling us. Stretching increases the range of motion. This has been supported by numerous studies that have tested the effects of various types of stretching and flexibility. We can distinguish few types of stretching techniques:

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What stretching techniques should you use to increase flexibility?

  • Dynamic stretching in which the person is moving dynamically through their range of motion with controlled mobility drills
  • Ballistic stretching which involves less controlled muscular effort and uses bouncing type of movement in which the end position is not held
  • Static stretching when stretch is held for certain amounts of time
  • PNF type of stretching. Those techniques are mostly performed with the partner or therapist and combining three different phases: passive pre-stretch, muscular activation and increased passive stretch at the end

Which type is most effective?

So which type is most effective? From recent studies on this matter, it was concluded that PNF and static stretching are almost equally effective means of improving range of motion. PNF is somewhat disadvantageous here as most of the times it requires a partner and some expertise. On the other hand, static stretching is easy to apply on yourself.

 

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How long should I stretch for?

Next important factor in improving flexibility is the duration of stretch. Science comes with help again and it was found that most effective time of stretching is 5 to 10 minutes per week. Optimal strategy here would be three sets for thirty seconds six days a week. Alternatively, we can achieve the same results by doing less session per week (three) but increasing duration of the stretch to sixty seconds.

  1. 3 sessions per week/3 sets/60 seconds
  1. 6 sessions per week/ 3 sets/30 seconds

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