Flexibility and Myofascial Release
Flexibility can be defined as the ability of a joint to move through a full range of motion (ROM). ROM defines the functional capacity and movement potential of a given joint or a bodily segment. Therefore, flexibility plays a major role in one’s ability to engage in various types of physical activity; and while a significant factor in human function, it often receives modest attention in many exercise programs. Major benefits associated with superior flexibility include a reduction in the rate of functional decline; increased training capabilities; improved postural symmetry and muscle relaxation; reduced tension in muscles, joints and connective tissues; a reduction in the risk for injury; potential relief of pain; and improved quality of life (QOL). Maintaining a level of flexibility over one’s lifespan is associated with a decrease in functional decline and greater independence, whereas a reduction in flexibility can ultimately lead to restriction, chronic pain, dysfunction, and reduced QOL. Inflexibility generally leads to musculoskeletal injuries as a result of various mechanisms, including the loss of postural symmetry, distorted muscle alignment, excessive soft tissue stresses, and movement compensations during exercise and movement. Prime examples of flexibility-related distortion include an anterior shift of the shoulder joint as part of upper-cross syndrome and pelvic instability due to a compromised tilt position.