Flexibility Protects Against Injuries, not only in boxing

One of the underrated attributes in boxing is flexibility. Boxers enjoy focusing on endurance, plyometric power, and speed—all necessary for effective competition. But they often compromise flexibility, which leads to injury.

by Coach Jarek Slagowski, Grind Boxing Gym

I insist that my boxers stretch before every training session.

Sports medicine defines flexibility as the ability of a joint or series of joints to move through an unrestricted, pain-free range of motion. The range of motion will be influenced by the mobility of the soft tissues surrounding the joint. These soft tissues include: muscles, ligaments, tendons, joint capsules and skin.

So flexibility increases the range of motion, which is critical in competitive sports like boxing, but also in everyday life. Unrestricted use of your joints like shoulders, wrists, hips and knees leads to championship belts as well as quality of life.

Another important function of flexibility is preventing injuries. Flexible muscles, tendons and ligaments are less likely to be torn and damaged.

Flexibility, like all attributes, is temporary. Gaining and retaining flexibility takes time and dedication, ideally through daily stretching.

Stretching is a physical exercise in which muscles and tendons are flexed or stretched to improve elasticity and comfortable muscle tone. Stretches can either be static or dynamic (ballistic).

Static stretches are performed in stationary positions. Dynamic stretches employ movement of the stretched muscles. Stretches can be active or passive. Active stretches use one’s body strength to perform a stretch. Passive stretches use external force from equipment or people to do the stretch.

There are two types of stretching: preventive and progressive. Preventive stretching is used before the workout to prevent injuries associated with cold and tight muscles. Progressive stretching is performed anytime to increase flexibility.

Before any stretching, cardiovascular warmup is necessary for about 10 minutes. This increases the blood flow and temperature of the muscles, ligaments and tendons, improving the elasticity and function of the muscles and connective tissue.

Stretching exercises should be performed slowly with full balance, without bouncing, and never cause pain. Breathe properly to provide your body with fresh oxygen. If you are not familiar with common stretches, consult with a good coach or physical therapist.

Improving flexibility results in many benefits: better performance, lower risk of injuries, better blood supply to joints, increased quantity of synovial joint fluid, better neuromuscular coordination, and increased joint mobility.