top of page

Flexibility Training for Cheerleaders and Circus Performers: A Systematic Approach.

Updated: Jan 21

By Beth Shum

Flexibility training plays a crucial role in enhancing performance. It allows you to gain a broader range of motion, improving your skills in activities like dancing, gymnastics, and cheerleading. Flexibility training can significantly reduce the risk of injuries, improve physical performance, and contribute to the aesthetic appeal of movements.



What is stretching. Stretching is the lengthening and elongation fo muscles, associated with fascia, tissues around the joint to increase range of motion (ROM).

Type of stretching:

Other techniques to enhance flexibility include the following:

  1. Static stretching involves holding stretches between 10-30 sec, which is proven to significantly improve joint range of motion.

  2. Dynamic stretching involves moving joints through their full range of motion repeatedly.

  3. Ballistic or bouncing stretching is not recommended as it may lead to muscle tears and ligament damage.


What should stretching feel like?


Stretching should ideally be pain-free and comfortable. If stretching triggers pain, your muscles will naturally resist any lengthening changes to prevent injuries. So, it is crucial to develop a range of motion in all directions rather than forcing it into painful ranges.




Understanding Flexibility: The core components

Flexibility is a complex interplay of various factors. The core components of flexibility include joint mobility and the nervous system. An optimal balance between these components is essential for achieving high-level flexibility. Joint mobility allows for a wide range of movement, while the nervous system plays a crucial role in controlling these movements.

the core components of flexibility training: nervous system, joint mobility and active / passive gap

Flexibility Training Program

There are various methods to improve flexibility. At Flexibility Matters Physio, we use anatomy-based stretching to increase the range of motion. The key to this method is consistency over intensity.

A well-structured flexibility program should consider the following factors: Flexibility, Mobility, Symmetry, Performance, and Skills. The program should focus on building strength at the end range, Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation (PNF), targeted body parts work, and a systematic approach to flexibility training. Such a program should ideally be followed for 30-60 days.


The pyramid of flexibility

Challenges and Barriers

There are various barriers to achieving high-level flexibility, including a lack of system, inconsistency, pain and weakness in joints, lack of a personalized program, and natural factors like growth and ageing.


To overcome these, a systematic approach is required, which includes warming up before exercises, stretching 15-30 seconds, regular training, and avoiding long sustained stretches or stretching when cold.


Evidence Base Principle for Flexibility Training:

Warm up for 5 to 10 min before flexibility exercises A stretch duration of 15-30 seconds (​Bandy et al. ) Reminder to train muscles in extended or end-of-range positions. Performing stretching at 5 days a week for at least 5 minutes per week using static stretching per muscle group/week, was optimal (Thomas et al.).

Conclusion Having a structured flexibility training programme can significantly improve the performance of Cheerleaders and Circus Artists. With the right training methods and consistency, you can improve your flexibility and enhance your skills. So, it's time to stretch your way to flexibility!

References

Shrier, I. (2006) “Acute effects of static and proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation stretching on muscle strength and power output,” Yearbook of Sports Medicine, 2006, p. 158. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1016/s0162-0908(08)70360-x.

Thomas, E. et al. (2018) “The relation between stretching typology and stretching duration: The effects on range of motion,” International Journal of Sports Medicine, 39(04), pp. 243–254. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1055/s-0044-101146.

Wyon, M.A., Smith, A. and Koutedakis, Y. (2013) “A comparison of strength and stretch interventions on active and passive ranges of movement in dancers,” Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 27(11), pp. 3053–3059. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1519/jsc.0b013e31828a4842.

Yamamoto, T., Urabe, Y. and Maeda, N. (2020) “Examination of exercise load for recovering decreased muscle strength caused by static stretching,” Science & Sports, 35(5). Available at: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.scispo.2019.07.016.


 

You can get in touch with Beth Shum, the founder of Flexibility Matters Physiotherapy for our physiotherapy services. Visit our website at www.fmphysio.com or connect with her on Instagram @flexibility_matters.

42 views0 comments
bottom of page