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  • Writer's pictureTomas Wurst

Part2: How to improve sport specific performance. ROM (Range Of Motion).

Updated: Nov 14, 2023

When we exercise or practice sports our body is constantly moving throughout different range of motions and also stabilising to affectively maintain control.

Different sport and exercise situations have different flexibility and stability demands. Some sports require a greater amount of flexibility and or stability than others.

Example: A gymnast requires these two components at a higher level than a football player. However, for both athletes both components are fundamental to their performance and need to be trained specifically to their sport's needs (and their goals and level).

I will address only ROM in this article and then address stability and its very important relationship with flexibility in following ones.

Flexibility is the ability of a joint or series of joints to move through an (ideally unrestricted & pain free) ROM (range of motion).
How to improve sport specific performance. ROM (Range Of Motion).

The impact of flexibility on sport performance.

Flexibility is arguably the most neglected component of fitness among the general population, and very unfortunately this is also noted in amateur sport training.

Nonetheless, is foremost a fundamental component of fitness (and sport) training as it affects our ability to move correctly and also affects all other components of fitness.

There are three components that affect flexibility: muscle elasticity and length, joint structure and nervous system.

While heredity has a important impact in a person’s joint structure, muscle elasticity and length and the nervous system, in all cases the right flexibility training can positively impact our flexibility levels.

Increasing flexibility does not only increase ROM, it can improve aerobic fitness training, muscular strength and endurance. All fundamental components in sport-specific training.

Moreover, increasing range of motion (ROM) is a key component in preventing injuries through unimpeded fluid movement. Flexibility training can decrease soreness and stiffness, particularly among athletes who train at much higher frequencies and intensities.

You can learn more about ROM and Injury Prevention on this article: How to Prevent Injury. Part 1. R.O.M.

To achieve peak performance, we must utilize the full length of the muscle to exhibit power and strength. If muscles are too tight, they may not be able to provide the explosiveness necessary for a particular movement. Example: Tight hip flexors will not allow you to extend to a full stride while sprinting, jumping, kicking, etc, thus inhibiting performance. Moreover, a tight hip flexor combined with tight spine extensors (unfortunately a very common scenario) will further inhibit performance.

How to improve sport specific performance. ROM (Range Of Motion).

We cannot of course address every single sport-specific flexibility requirements on a single article, however I can provide:

Training basics and considerations that apply to all trainees and athletes alike:

  • You need to train flexibility in both ways: Dynamically and statically.

  • Dynamic stretches are a must-do while warming up for sport practices as well as for fitness training without exceptions.

  • Static stretches should also be performed at all training sessions for professional and amateur athletes .

  • Cold body tissue has less elasticity. Thereafter, you have to initiate your warm up session with simple exercise that will increase body temperature first and then, slowly and gradually, introduce the mentioned dynamic stretches at the right intensity.

  • Please always consider that climate, ambient temperature, time of the day, your mood (yep, your mood), the intensity and frequency which you have been training, your biological age and your body type do impact dramatically your flexibility. Thereafter, you will not have the same flexibility on every training session and you will need to adapt intensity accordantly to these variables and your unique levels and circumstances.

  • Due to the variables mentioned above, your fitness levels and the even more complex sport-specific variables, determining the right program is not simple. Feeling your body, lessen to its signs and being present while training flexibility (and any other fitness component) are fundamental to achieve progress.

  • Intensity, Frequency, Time, Accuracy/Type

  1. Intensity: Stretch to the point of mild discomfort, not pain. Again, feel, lessen to your body and be present.

  2. Frequency: We mentioned that dynamic stretches are a must-do at your warmup and that static stretches have to be included at all training sessions (whether you are a professional or an amateur athlete). Hence, at the very lest the frequency chosen to train your flexibility should match your weekly training frequency.

  3. Time: The time expend on holding each stretch and the repetition requirement depend on your unique needs, levels, goals and again the sport-specific needs and levels. Generally we hold static stretches from 20 to 40 seconds and we perform 1 to 4 repetitions.

  4. Accuracy / Type: Dynamic and static stretches are a must for every-body who wants to perform well. However, to prescribe the right training program apart of understanding well your goals, we must do an extend analysis on the sport-specific movements requirements in addition to a comprehensive assessment on your body performance.

If you're a professional athlete you already have a team of professional helping you to perform to your personal best (normally the team includes a sport coach, fitness coach, physiotherapist and massage therapist).

Most commonly, for amateur athletes the reality is completely different.

If you are serious in performing to your best possible levels, I strongly recommend you to seek for professional help. Unlike professional athletes, amateur do not need a full team of professionals to improve performance, but a fitness coach, who understands well sport-specific training. This will not only increase your performance, but will save your time, money and also decrease the likelihood of injury and developing inappropriate practice. Moreover, as there is nothing more motivational that achieving your goals, having a helping hand from professional coaching will increase sport practice satisfaction.

Tomás Agustin Würst, Fitness Trainer, Yoga Teacher and Manager Director at Workout Australia. Have a question?

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The information contained on the on Workout Australia website, Articles and so on, is not intended to be a professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment in any manner.

Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding any medical condition.


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