Fitness Training For Youth
What is the difference between Flexibility and Mobility?
Well, sometimes this is a confusing issue, as these terms are often used interchangeably. Mobility (also known in some circles as active flexibility) is where we’re talking about CONTROL of the body through a larger range of motion. The muscle group says “I want to move, and I can.” The contrast is passive flexibility, where an outside force will be asking the question, “Can I stretch you?”, and the muscle says “Yeah, I guess so”. There is no skill here, and it is my belief that those who are hyperflexible (too flexible) without motor control are just as prone to injury as those who are Hypomobile / flexible (not mobile or flexible enough)
Are both important for Fitness Training For Youth or is one more important than the other?
I think that, all things being equal, mobility is a far more valuable goal to pursue for our young ones. However, if there is a physical limitation in a certain body area / muscle group, flexibility can certainly be addressed as part of an overall mobility program.
When should young athletes train Flexibility?
Again, flexibility should be the goal when there is a specific area that is tighter proportionally than the rest of the body. Although, the first question should be “Why?”, with regard to the cause of the tightness. Many times, we are just dealing with the natural growth process during a growth spurt, where bones outgrow muscle and connective tissue, and there is temporary tightness. We may need to train flexibility here through focused stretching, but always in the context of a well rounded mobility program.
When should they train Mobility?
Unless there is a debilitating injury. Always. Throughout development. Period.
Are there different kinds of Flexibility, or is ‘bending over to touch my toes and stretch my hammy’ what all young athletes should be doing?
Absolutely not. The young body should be able to MOVE, and the body should interact smoothly and naturally with the nervous system, not just accept and yield to forces passively.
What is the single greatest mistake or myth people make when it comes to Flexibility training for fitness training for youth?
The greatest mistake people make when it comes to flexibility is to force a passive stretch. When you force a passive stretch, there is circuitry in the spinal cord that will respond by tightening the muscles. Wait, weren’t we trying to RELIEVE the tightness in the muscles? I have seen utterly sadistic attempts by uninformed, performance / ego driven coaches where they would take a young athlete and stretch him or her to the point of tears, actually saying that they wouldn’t get flexible unless they fought through the pain. This doesn’t create athletic mobility, it injures, tears, and forever alters the tissue.
Want to learn more on Fitness Training For Youth? www.IYCA.org/youth-fitness-certification