Flexibility, Range of Motion, and Speed

Posted on October 26, 2010

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 Just a quick note on stretching and getting faster! 

“That hurts!  Not so far!” That was me in high school and college.  Funny thing was, I was probably one of the most flexible guys on the team and probably one of the strongest!

Several times a day I would go through all my different stretches, against a door, a wall, lifeguard stand, whatever it took.  I found parts that I didn’t know I could stretch, but did anyway.  I think it paid off with gaining massive speed and increasing my overall strength. Whatever lack of talent I had, I definitely made up with these items. 

I believe one of the best things you can do as an athlete is to work on your flexibility and range of motion.  The more flexibility and range of motion you have, the faster you will go, plain and simple.  So start on it now…multiple times a day. 

Why do you think all the best swimmers look loose and lanky?  Because they are! 

You have to learn how to stretch by yourself, to discover which stretches are best for your body type. And then start stretching outside of practice and do it  frequently.  There are many websites out there with different types of stretches and range of motion exercises, and you need to surf and figure out the best ones for you. 

I do know USA Swimming, USA Track & Field, and USA Triathlon have their own stretches they use for specific motions.  Look at GoSwim.com, swimnetwork.com, and others to increase your library of knowledge with swimming. Back when I was swimming there was only Swimming World and the library, but now you all have huge amounts of areas to cruise through.  So get to it and don’t forget to drink water!  Here is a routine I found on about.com…not a bad start and should only take you 5 – 15 minutes.  Of course after you warm your body up a little.

Stretching Routine (Stretch anything)

  • Frequency: Daily
  • Sets: 1 – 4
  • Repetitions: 4 – 10
  • Duration: Hold for 2 – 4 seconds
  • Rest: 5 – 10 seconds between reps and 20 – 45 seconds between sets (but don’t rush it, take more if you need it)
  • Exertion: Stretch until you feel resistance and hold
  • Use the opposing muscle to help move into the stretch
  • DO NOT FORCE A MOVEMENT, AND DO NOT HOLD A POSITION IF YOU FEEL PAIN
  • The motion of the stretch should stop a bit before it becomes painful

Note: Perform routine after a thorough warm-up or at the conclusion of your workout.

Let me know your routine, I would love to hear from you!  Just make sure you guys touch on all muscles, at least 2-3 times per session.  You will see your times drop in swimming, running and definitely cycling!

And just in case you needed further convincing, multi-Olympic Gold Medalist Dara Torres credits stretching for her longevity. Check out her stretching routine:

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