This paper is well-organized and informative. The specific statistical analysis to be performed is missing, so points were lost for that, but this is a good example of paper organization and writing style.
Every day men and women stretch in one way or another. Some do it when they are participating in a sport while others do it when working out at the fitness center. The goal of some is to avoid an injury. Others are hoping is just to stay flexible and not allow their muscles to tighten up. It is important for the overall tone of our muscles to stretch them regularly. It also keeps our muscles balanced around joints as well as improving posture. It improves the supply of blood and nutrients to the muscles and cartilage (De Klerk, 2008). Lastly stretching decreases the amount of muscle soreness following a vigorous workout or just a long day at work (SeaParkAC, 2008).
Through time we have gone from traditional stretching such as static stretching and passive stretching to trying different methods including ballistic stretching, dynamic stretching, active stretching, isometric stretching and proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation stretching more commonly called PNF stretching (Sky term, 2008). With all of these possibilities, people are taught more than one way to stretch yet do not know which one would produce the best results. The question that needs to be explored is which one of these is the best way to stretch; which one of the stretching methods achieves that best result in added flexibility.
Only five of the seven stretches listed above will be analyzed because two of them are not recommended for the development of flexibility in the average public. Research shows that ballistic stretching is exceedingly dangerous because it forces the muscles into a stretch. When doing this type of stretching, the muscles contract and may even tighten up leading to injury. The other stretch not intended for flexibility training is dynamic stretching. Dynamic stretching is a type of warm up stretching which is good for loosening up muscles right before a sporting event but does not aid in added overall flexibility. This just relaxes the muscles for a short term effect (Sky Term, 2008). After eliminating these two, it leaves active, passive, static, isometric and PNF stretching to analyze and experiment with (Sky Term, 2008). The results from this experiment will be able to aid medical professionals such as physical therapists and athletic trainers, or coaches and athletes in their personal lives as well.
The goal of this experiment is to test the different forms of stretching in order to find which method has the biggest impact on flexibility of the muscles. The five types of stretching that will be compared will be active, passive, static, isometric and PNF stretching. Active stretching is where someone assumes a stretching position and holds the position without any assistance. This stretch builds the antagonist muscle and trains the stretching muscle to relax. Passive stretching is a process of a relaxed person holding himself in a stretched position with some other body part or another individual assisting him with the hold. Static stretching is where a person stretches his muscle group as far as possible and holds it in place. Isometric stretching is a process of putting resistance on the stretched muscle group then tensing up the muscles into a contraction (Sky Term, 2008). Lastly, PNF stretching is a combination of passive stretching and isometric stretching. The individual being stretched will passively stretch his muscle and then tense the muscle up as in an isometric stretch, finally passively stretching the muscle a little farther than before (Wood PNF, 2008).
This experiment will be testing each method of stretching, active, passive, static, isometric and PNF stretching, to see how effective they will be in increasing the flexibility of a person. This will help people avoid pulling a tight muscle due to lack of flexibility and just allow them to have a further range of movement in their daily lives. Of these five stretching programs, the hypothesis is that static and PNF stretching will achieve the biggest increase in an individual’s flexibility. The reason static and PNF stretching are chosen to be the most beneficial is because static stretching is one of the most common types of stretching and PNF is the most recently discovered style of stretching and has since been the fastest, most effective way to gain flexibility (Corbin, 156, 2006) (Wood, PNF, 2008) . As a result of the research, a person’s flexibility will be able to increase efficiently with an in-depth stretching program. The data from this experiment will point toward which stretching program people should consider doing every day, aiding them in their life style.
The time period set would be thirty days with each individual doing a variety of stretches targeting specific muscles groups for thirty minutes a day. This is because there needs to be enough time for observable data to be recorded from each individual going through the program.
An area will be selected to find a simple random sample of individuals for the experiment. Once the area is located, individuals would be randomly chosen from the area to participate in the experiment. However not all individuals could be selected; they would have to fall under certain criteria. These criteria would be that they are between the age of 20 to 30 with a body type of semi-athletic and fit. There will be a total of twenty individuals for the experiment so that each stretching technique would be performed by four different individuals supplying more data to achieve more accurate results. Having twenty individuals between the ages of 20 and 30 with four people doing each stretching program would help get rid of any outliers that could occur due to lurking variables such as an individual that is naturally more flexible than another individual or one who already has worked on his flexibility more than the other. By doing four participants most of these lurking variables would be ruled out.
The twenty individuals then would be randomly assigned to a stretching style for them to participate in. Initially each of the participants would be measured for his flexibility in a variety of flexibility tests. These tests would include the sit and reach test where the participant sits on the floor, legs together out in front of him with his toes pointing up. He then will reach as far as he can past his toes. The next stretch will be measuring the calf muscles flexibility. This will be done by standing with arms out straight against the wall and then bending the knee towards the wall keeping one’s feet flat on the ground measuring how close he can get to the wall before the heels pick up. The next two tests will test the participant’s shoulder flexibility. This will be done by putting one arm straight up in the air and then bending it at the elbow placing one’s hand in the center of the back between the shoulder blades. The other hand will then reach behind and up to the other hand seeing how far past the finger tips he can reach. The other shoulder test will be to grab a rope four inches apart in front of the body and then bring the arms up and over the head and behind the back seeing how close the hands can stay together. The trunk rotation test is done by standing an arm’s length from the wall facing away from the wall. Then the participant will rotate his body around behind him, seeing how far he can reach. The last stretch will be measuring the groin flexibility. This is done by sitting flat against a wall with the knees together. Then the knees will spread apart with the balls of the feet remaining together, lowering the knee as close to the floor as possible (Wood, Fitness, 2008). These results of these initial tests will be recorded immediately since this data would be used as the baseline to look back on as the weeks progress showing the improvements in each participant’s flexibility.
Each participant will stretch daily with a trained professional in whichever style they were assigned to, going through stretches for thirty minutes each for thirty days. Each day the participants would go through the same routine and then be measured by taking the flexibility tests to see the progress made as the days progressed. This would be important to record daily so that the experiment would not only tell in the end how much more flexible the individual became overall but how fast they increased as well. This would be an important step because certain stretches could work the individual’s flexibility really fast while others may move slower but result in being more flexible in the end. The improvement in the range of motion (ROM) in each of the stretches will be recorded. This Information will be analyzed in a regression line to test the differences in the rate of improvement for each individual.
The importance of daily recording of flexibility will allow the various professionals to know if one method could stretch the muscle out faster and end up being more beneficial for a person doing therapy who only has a short amount of time to gain his flexibility back. However, another type of stretching might offer a better total increase in flexibility over a longer period could be more beneficial for a patient that has more time to recover.
At the end of the thirty days each individual would be measured again and then the results would be recorded and compared between the five different styles of stretching to see which is the most effective. These results will point towards which method should be used in certain circumstances telling which one gives added flexibility more quickly and which one is slower. The data will show physical therapist, athletic trainers, coaches and individual people what type of stretching program they should pursue. From here these results could go on to further research to discover if one aids in preventing injury while another aids more in the healing process.
Corbin, Charles B., William R. Corbin, Gregory J. Welk, and Karen A. Welk. Concepts of Fitness and Wellness. 7th ed. New York, NY: McGraw Hill, 2006. 152+.
De Klerk, Bronwen. “The Importance of Stretching.” Body and Mind. 21 Oct. 2008 <http://www.bodyandmind.co.za/healthweb/the_importance_of_streching.html>.
SeaParkAC. “Importance of Stretching.” Look good Feel good Get into Shape. Word Press Entries. 21 Oct. 2008 <http://www.seaparkac.com/?page_id=64>.
Sky term, ed. “Types of Stretching.” IFA Fitness. 1995. 20 Oct. 2008 <http://www.ifafitness.com/stretch/stretch4.htm>.
Wood, Rob. “PNF Stretching.” Top End Sports. 20 Oct. 2008 <http://www.topendsports.com/medicine/stretching-pnf.htm>.
Wood, Rob. “Top End Sports.” Fitness Test. 20 Oct. 2008 <http://www.topendsports.com/testing/flex.htm>.
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