Wednesday, September 26, 2007


Photographer: Sascha Hüttenhain

Flexibility refers to the absolute range of movement in a joint or series of joints that is attainable in a momentary effort with the help of a partner or a piece of equipment. Flexibility in some joints can be increased to a certain degree by stretching.

Stretching is a form of physical exercise in which a specific skeletal muscle (or muscle group) is deliberately elongated to its fullest length (often by abduction from the torso) in order to improve the muscle's felt elasticity and reaffirm comfortable muscle tone. The result is a feeling of increased muscle control, flexibility and range of motion. Stretching is also used therapeutically to alleviate cramps.

Stretching, in its most basic form, is a natural and instinctive activity; it is performed by many animals including humans. It can be accompanied by yawning. Stretching often occurs instinctively after waking from sleep, after long periods of inactivity, or after exiting confined spaces.

Many athletes stretch deliberately before or after exercise in order to increase performance and reduce injury. Whether it is helpful, has no effect, or even has detrimental effects is in dispute. While common, it may not be beneficial for all athletic activities.

Photograher: Bob Greenfield

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