The Truth About Flexibility And Why You Are Likely Wasting Your Efforts Part 3
Erik Strouse, MS
VIDA Fitness Trainer
Welcome back VIDA members. Last month I started on the idea of flexibility and how there’s far more to it than just static stretching. The last article posted talked about Self-Myofascial Release (SMFR) being the first step to any sound flexibility program. Again, the Fascia is the thin membranous tissue around the actual muscle that provides us our structure; it is something that can easily limit our range of motion, thus needs to be targeted first.
Step #2 to a sound flexibility program still pertains to the Fascial system, but also to the idea of muscular dysfunction that was discussed in Part 1. Remember, muscles tighten up because they are inactive or shortened for extended periods of time like when we sit down all day. This has to do with the central nervous system and it’s ability to activate muscle tissue, as well as the shortened length not allowing proper muscle force development after having adapted to the shortened length. In other words, it creates muscular dysfunction through the entire system where certain muscles simply don’t operate as designed.
In order to re-lengthen the muscles back to an optimal length, you have to “stretch” them, but more importantly, you also have to train the dysfunction out of them. Static stretching does not train the dysfunction out of the system! All it will do is lengthen in a single plain of movement. If you do not train the dysfunction out of the body, even though that muscle tissue has lengthened, you will find your body tightening itself back up.
So how do you train away the dysfunction? Our body is designed to move in THREE Dimensions. We bend, twist, and move in an infinite number of ways. Static stretching is a ONE Dimensional process. You can literally only stretch that muscle tissue one specific way when holding a static stretch. In order to start training that dysfunction away, you have to start moving and training the body in three dimensions. Officially, step #2 is Dynamic Flexibility.
Dynamic flexibility is 100% related to the movement you are trying to gain or improve. For example, let’s say you have really tight calves, and it is altering the way you run. In order to improve your flexibility specific to running, you would have to position your body in the three stances that are found in the gait cycle. They are the Load Stance, Midstance, and Terminal stance. The picture included shows theses stances, but also includes Initial Contact, which is more or less the Load Stance. You can use a few stairs and bench to get in these positions with relative ease.
When in these stances, you are then going to maneuver the body around using what are called “drivers”. Drivers are when you pick a body part, such as your hips, shoulders, or hands, and then move them forward and back, side to side, and then rotate them. The movement at the selected driver will then translate down to the feet and up to the head through a chain of movements all linked together. This will start to train the muscles throughout the entire length of the body to fire when needed through the aforementioned chain of movements. Over time, the more you do this, the more you will train the dysfunction away. This is somewhat hard to conceptualize without seeing an example; so I would love to show you a quick walk through should you have interest. Again, you can always send me an email at
Stay tuned later this month for another post on flexibility. There are two more phases to proper flexibility training! In the mean time, get to that SMFR!