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Flexibility drills improve overall body performance

By Alex Salinas | Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph Public Affairs | April 11, 2013

JBSA-Randolph — (Editor's note: This is the sixth in a series of articles about circuit training workouts published in the Wingspread.)

The Health and Wellness Center at Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph introduced flexibility exercises to maximize the body's overall physical performance, which are often overlooked.

"Flexibility is the fitness world's elephant in the room," Keith Prince, HAWC Health Promotions Flight chief, said. "With flexibility routines, you don't see large muscle growth and you don't see weight loss or change in body composition.

"However, you get instant results in loosening up muscles that are tight or sore, allowing better muscle development and better strength development. These are hidden benefits."

The recommended flexibility exercises are gluteus foam rolls, iliotibial band foam rolls, quadriceps foam rolls, thoracic mobility foam rolls and tennis ball rolls for the feet, which are all self-myofascial release techniques.

Using foam rollers to stretch out soft tissues, similar to deep-muscle massages, people can strengthen the fascia throughout their bodies, which are the "web-like sheaths that envelop every muscle, tendon, ligament, nerve, vein and artery," Prince said.

"Healthy fascia allow us to be more flexible and engaged with overall body strength and performance," he added.

People unfamiliar with using a foam roller may experience discomfort, but this is OK.

"Press through the level of discomfort until it becomes more comfortable," Prince said. "Start (rolling) slow and smooth and then pick up the pace once your body adjusts."

Prince suggested spending 10-20 seconds on each exercise.

The flexibility exercises are a form of stretching and can be performed multiple times a day, especially before and after a workout, Prince said.

High-risk areas like the hips, hamstrings and back are targeted in the listed routines.

Foam rollers are available at the HAWC and Rambler Fitness Center, building 999.

For more information, call the HAWC at 652-2300.