ACTIVE FLEXIBILITY: WHAT IS IT, AND WHY IS SO IMPORTANT?

Blog #6 of 7 in series by Angelica Avolio

Passive flexibility enables us to achieve a certain stretch with the aid of tools or applied forces. An example of this can be splits performed on the floor, where the latter works as a force towards which we are pushing our body to stretch our leg muscles. Active flexibility, on the other hand, is what enables us to achieve a full range of motion with the sole help of our own muscles pulling in one direction. An example of this can be an extended butterfly where the leg off the pole extends out freely to perform a full split.

It is needless to say that the second type of flexibility is the one you are looking to achieve and perfect if you are a pole dancer and even more so, if you have a competition coming up and you really want to get yourself on the podium.

In this article we will investigate how to improve your active flexibility and give you some useful tips that you can apply to your pole dance training to ace your routine. 

WORK ON PASSIVE FLEXIBILITY 

Yes, you heard it right: in order to improve your active flexibility, you must work on passive flexibility, as this is what trains your muscle and gets them used to extending comfortably over their natural range of motion. Passive flexibility can be trained trough passive stretching exercises, best if performed after a workout or after a warm bath or shower, as warmed up muscles have a greater flexibility range. However, always make sure to not over stretch as this can lead to injuries.

INCREASE YOUR STRENGTH 

This may sound new to you, but strength is a very important factor to take into consideration when aiming to improve your active flexibility. Your muscles are in fact what enables your body to stretch to its full range of motion seamlessly through pulling bones into the desired direction. And therefore, the stronger the muscles, the easier it will be to perform splits in your tricks and combos. You should therefore dedicate at least 1-2 weekly sessions to improve your strength through tailored resistance training with a focus on your whole body. A great example are back squats or deadlifts, as they are compound movements that work more muscles. 


Active flexibility is an essential skill to develop as a pole dancer, as it enables you to progress in your pole fitness journey by allowing you to perform more advanced moves, but it is also required to make sure you perform tricks and combos seamlessly – which again, is also very important to look effortless while moving on the pole if you want to score more points in a pole dance competition! So if you are practicing your routine for comp, aim to dedicate at least a couple of days a week to work on your passive flexibility/stretching and strength training to improve your active flexibility and get those extra scores from the judges.


REFERENCES

Batista Santos, A., Lemos, M.E., Lebre, E. and Ávila Carvalho, L., 2015. ACTIVE AND PASSIVE LOWER LIMB FLEXIBILITY IN HIGH LEVEL RHYTHMIC GYMNASTICS. Science of Gymnastics Journal, 7(2).

Batista, A., Garganta, R. and Ávila-Carvalho, L., 2019. Flexibility and functional asymmetry in rhythmic gymnastics. Athens Journal of Sports, 6(2), pp.77-94.

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