So there’s an elephant in the room. The answer is yes…I am a man and I wear tights. I have proudly worn them across three continents and do not plan on changing anytime soon because I really do not give $#!+ what people think. The reason? They make my butt look good. In the most indirect way possible, this brings me to the point of this post: Flexibility and balance as they pertain to the strength athlete.
First, flexibility is essential when it comes to strength training. Flexibility is the ability of your joints to move freely and uninhibited throughout their full range of motion. In weight training, a lot of people are unable to execute movements based solely on their inability to move their body into a mechanically advantageous position. For instance, when squatting many people lack flexibility in their hips causing them to be unable to truly engage the necessary leg, trunk, and back muscles when executing this lift. This limits the body’s true strength potential and even more importantly can cause injury due to overcompensation by other muscles groups.
Next, let’s talk about balance. Balance is much more complex than can be explained in this simple blog post, however for the sake of brevity, it is the body’s ability to activate muscles in an equal and opposing manner to keep you upright and in place. When executing the squat with smooth and equitable muscular contractions throughout the motion it will be easier and ultimately achieve a greater result (more weight). Imbalances will not only limit your potential but will grow worse if not corrected culminating in injury and functional disorders.
The Fix. There are many ways to correct flexibility and balance inconsistencies. From one man in yoga pants to whoever might be reading this, I recommend Yoga. When I say Yoga, I do not mean Yoga in the sense that you need to change your whole entire lifestyle. I mean it in the practical sense with practicing poses that focus specifically of increasing flexibility and balance. There are many programs, both self and professionally administered, that can greatly benefit your strength game and keep you out of a wheel chair. Many high functioning athletes have adopted this technique and seen great benefit. So even if you’re a division one linebacker (which many colleges force their football players to practice yoga), put your pride aside, do your research, and implement some simple poses into your routine. Your joints and PR’s will thank you for it. Who knows… maybe you’ll find yourself in tights too.