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Muscle Balance or Flexibility Profile


As a personal trainer, your ongoing quest for the "perfect program" never ends. This is the second part of a three-part series on how to build a foundation for your program design. Before we can discuss what acute variables your client should start with (sets, reps, tempo, and rest periods), we must first start with an understanding of what condition our client is starting with. Since the "typical" client of today is much different from the "typical" client of 30-40 years ago, their program design must be altered to fit their environment.

In the article Postural Profile, we discussed the importance of posture and its effect on performance. In this article, we will cover flexibility profiles, which will aid any health and fitness professional in their attempt to design an integrated flexibility program.

Muscles work to reduce, produce and control movement or maintain posture. For muscles to work optimally, each requires specific levels of flexibility. Therefore, Integrated Flexibility Training (IFT) becomes a key component for all training programs. IFT is performed to correct muscle imbalances, increase joint range of motion, decrease muscle soreness, decrease muscle hypertonicity, relieve joint stress, improve the extensibility of the neuromuscular junction and maintain the normal functional length of all muscles.

The goal of the NASM flexibility profiles is to assess muscle balance. When a client presents an imbalance, some muscles are shorter and longer than optimum lengths. This imbalance has been shown to be fairly systematic; certain muscles are prone to shortening while others are susceptible to lengthening. Two fundamental changes appear when there is muscle imbalance:

The most common, controllable cause for muscle imbalance is repetition of movement and/or positions. Prolonged static activity in a constrained, poor posture as well as lack of daily movement should be addressed.

The trainer must also always consider correlations. Correlating client history, possible sources of repetitive strain, activities of daily living, job demands and exercise habits will assist in the development of an individualized integrated-training program that influences a positive lifestyle change.

The following series of muscle-balance assessments will assist the trainer in identifying muscles (regions) requiring stretching in order to achieve optimum gains in the resistance portion of the integrated-training program.

GASTROCNEMIUS

SOLEUS

HAMSTRINGS

HIP FLEXORS

LATISSIMUS DORSI

As a health and fitness professional, you can use these simple techniques to create your clients' flexibility program.

Click here for Muscle Balance or Flexibility Profile Form.