Advertisement

Do gymnasts need flexibility training?

Yes! Although most gymnasts are naturally flexible, some are only flexible in certain areas. There is also a tendency for a gymnast to be more flexible on one side of the body than the other. This asymmetry can increase as the gymnast usually favors the more flexible side. Asymmetries can then lead to greater risk of injury and decreased performance. Flexibility training can help reduce this asymmetry and lead to better performance and mechanics. 
Eric Beard
Sports Medicine

Gymnasts absolutely need flexibility training.  Gymnasts need to develop extremes ranges of motion throughout their major joints and when they do not have the extensibility of the muscles to allow for those extreme ranges of motion they tend to damage joint capsules, tendons, cartilage and ligaments. I have worked with several gymnasts and figure skaters and they have been missing symmetrical ranges of motion at key joints. Having a limitation in range of motion on one side of the body is a risk for injury. I have also observed that many gymnasts have the passive range of motion they need but they do not have the active strength to go along with it. This means that if they go into a split, gravity, momentum and their body weight push them into the split, it is a passive movement. Their muscles do not have to do the work.  An example of active strength (or active flexibility) is if the gymnast were standing and had to raise a leg up in their air to the side and hold it there for 2-4 seconds using their hip and leg muscles only, much like a martial artist. Active range of motion is critical to gymnastic performance and reduction of injury risk. Traditional static stretching is important along with active and dynamic stretching.  There are many types of flexibility to be used to help a gymnast prepare for and recover from the rigors of their sport.

Continue Learning about Gymnastics

What dynamic stretches can I do for gymnastics?
National Academy of Sports MedicineNational Academy of Sports Medicine
Dynamic stretches are a great preactivity warm-up and should be included for all athletes. These...
More Answers
Is the training facility important for gymnastics?
National Academy of Sports MedicineNational Academy of Sports Medicine
The training facility is extremely important for gymnastics. A trusted recommendation or referra...
More Answers
How can I work circuit training into gymnastics conditioning?
National Academy of Sports MedicineNational Academy of Sports Medicine
Circuit training is a great way to work both a cardiovascular and strength training session into...
More Answers
Can posture enhance my gymnastics performance?
National Academy of Sports MedicineNational Academy of Sports Medicine
Posture is the static and dynamic alignment of all structures of the body at any given moment, a...
More Answers

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.