Body Balance and Flexibility

Balance and proprioceptive training enhance motor control, which is needed to decrease the risk of injury or reinjury during practice or competition. When injury to a joint or musculotendinous structure occurs, somatosensory information is altered, adversely affecting motor control. Hence, rehabilitation should emphasize restoring the athlete's balance strategies. This will also decrease the risk of recurrent injury. The balance training tasks must be specific to the type of balance strategies required by the athlete s event.

Efficient performance requires a full range of motion, and adequate joint flexibility also decreases an athlete s susceptibility to injury. Normal muscular length - tension and adequate extensibility upon stretch aid in protecting the body from injury. The athlete s entire body is able to work more efficiently and safely after a period of warm - up, stretching, and skill - drills that are related to the athlete's event.

The warm - up period before practice or competition increases tile body' s tissue temperature prior to subjecting the musculotendinous structures to repeated stretch and contraction. Connective tissue has viscoelastic properties which allow elongation of the tissue. Temperature has a significant influence on the mechanical behavior of connective tissue under tensile stretch. Higher temperatures at low loads produce the greatest elongation with the least damage to connective tissue. Increased connective tissue temperature also increases extensibility.

Optimal stretching occurs only when voluntary and reflex muscle resistance is eliminated. Ballistic stretching is not a favorable method because as the muscles stretch rapidly, the intrafusal muscle spindles may be activated, causing a reflex protective muscle contraction. Forceful ballistic stretching can also cause microtrauma of muscle fibers.
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