Army Physical Fitness Test (APFT) FM 21-20 / TC 3-22.20 Training Info

Army Fitness Handbook – 4 – Flexibility

Flexibility

Flexibility is an important component of your fitness program. Many activity- related injuries have their root in lack of flexibility. Think of your muscles as rubber bands. When they are cold they are rigid and brittle. When warm they stretch and retract more easily. Conducting a good warm-up prior to exercising and a good cool-down upon completion will help prevent injury and reduce muscle soreness.

No matter what your current fitness level, you should always begin your exercise sessions with a warm-up. A good warm-up sequence is as follows. Jog in place or a specified location for one to two minutes. This causes a gradual increase in the heart rate, blood pressure, circulation, and increases the temperature of the active muscles. Next, perform slow joint rotation exercises (for example, arm circles, knee/ankle rotations) to gradually increase the joint’s range of motion. Work each major joint for 5 to 10 seconds. Finally, stretch the muscles to be used during the upcoming activity slowly. This will “loosen up” muscles and tendons so they can achieve greater ranges of motion with less risk of injury. Hold each stretch position for 10 to 15 seconds, and do not bounce or bob.

Immediately following your exercise session stretch as part of your cool-down. After exercising, when your muscles are their warmest is the best time to improve your flexibility. Do not limit flexibility exercises to warm-up and cool-down only. Take the time to dedicate sessions to flexibility. Stretching throughout the day is also a great idea. Stretching is one form of exercise that takes very little time relative to the benefits gained. Some of the more common flexibility exercises are listed under the flexibility exercises. Assume all stretching positions slowly until you feel tension or slight discomfort. Hold each position for at least 10 to 15 seconds during the warm-up and cool-down. Developmental stretching to improve flexibility requires holding each stretch for 30 seconds or longer.


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