Need to know how to be a flexible gymnast? Flexibility is critical to if you wish to participate in gymnastics, both in order to perform many of the required routines at all and to prevent injury. If you are in the early stages of training, then learning how to be a flexible gymnast is very important; it will be one of your main priorities early on. These principles can help you develop this flexibility safely.
- Setting goals. One of the most important things to keep in mind when learning to be a flexible gymnast is to manage your own expectations. There are no shortcuts or fast tracks to achieving flexibility. The only way it can be gained is through hard work, dedication and patience. Patience can be particularly challenging for competitive gymnasts who are driven to always push themselves a little harder, a little farther. That attitude will stand you in good stead when it comes to your training in general, but it could hurt you when it comes to your flexibility. You must learn to be patient when developing your flexibility, pushing yourself enough to improve but not so much that you become injured.
- Good pain vs. Bad pain. The line between improving your gymnastics flexibility and injuring yourself is a fine one, to say the least. You need to develop the ability to listen to your body, to know what it's telling you. Gaining flexibility hurts, but you must learn to tell the difference between a healthy ache and the sharp burning sensation of a developing tear. That is something that only time and experience will teach you, so err on the side of caution early on.
- Static vs. Dynamic Stretching. The term "static stretching" refers to holding a particular stretch motionless, or virtually motionless, for a set period of time. "Dynamic stretching", on the other hand, refers to active movement stretches, where the limb or body part being stretched is repeatedly swung or moved through a gradually increasing range of motion. Experts disagree on which type of stretching is more effective for gymnastics, but there is little question that you will achieve the best results by using a combination of both techniques
- Safe stretching technique. Whether you are performing a dynamic or a static stretch, proper technique is critical for safety. During a static stretch, move smoothly into the position (don’t force yourself into it suddenly or sharply). Move gradually without bouncing; relax; and breathe evenly. Many of these principles apply to a dynamic stretch as well. Make sure that you don’t tense your muscles while moving them through the range of motion. Gradually increase this range of motion during the stretching process, but don't do so too quickly. Make sure your muscles are thoroughly loosened and warmed up before pushing them beyond their normal range of motion, and back off again if you feel unhealthy levels of pain, as discussed above.
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