Science of Flexibility - 3rd Edition / Edition 3

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Gain a well-rounded understanding of the principles underlying stretching and flexibility with the updated third edition of Science of Flexibility. This practical text includes illustrated stretching exercises with a concentration on muscle structure and the technical nature of stretching. You will learn about the principles and clinical aspects of flexibility, the factors limiting flexibility, as well as techniques to enhance flexibility throughout the body.

Based on the latest research, Science of Flexibility, Third Edition, provides a comprehensive examination of the scientific, anatomical, and clinical principles of stretching. A 16-page appendix features 60 illustrated stretching exercises. A basic stretching exercise is given for every major part of the body—starting with the toes and plantar arches in the feet, on to the quadriceps and hip flexors, trunk and back, and finishing with the neck, shoulders, and arms.

The new edition also includes many additional features:

-An expanded research section with 2,100 scholarly and professional references

-Boxes within the text that expand discussion of stretching-related topics such as elasticity, collagen and scarring, and altered stretch perception

-Redrawn tables and figures as well as new illustrations

-New information on several sports and artistic disciplines, including music and dance, and their functional aspects of stretching
In addition, detailed illustrations and graphs, along with expanded captions and more than 30 photos, help showcase important concepts and the muscular components involved in flexibility and stretching. Science of Flexibility, Third Edition, is an excellent reference for anyone seeking the most current information and a well-rounded understanding of all aspects of stretching and flexibility.

The book contains black-and-white illustrations.

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Editorial Reviews

Doody's Review Service
Reviewer: Brian T. Larsen, MS, DPT (Utah State University College of Education & Human Services)
Description: This book provides an informative overview of the important components involved with flexibility. It also appears to take a unique approach in that it provides a description of the science, clinical application, and recommendations for both general and special populations. This is the third edition of a book originally published in 1988.
Purpose: Although the purpose is not directly stated, it seems to be to contribute to the knowledge of the human body in its abilities, and optimal development in relation to flexibility. The book provides an evidence-based perspective on flexibility and related topics that help to clarify certain grey areas that seem to exist in the health and fitness arenas with regard to flexibility. The author provides enough information to fulfill the objectives.
Audience: The book is written primarily for practitioners involved in the health and fitness arena, and it could also benefit health professionals in the clinical setting.
Features: The book first provides a nice overview and introduction to the concept of flexibility, then proceeds to give a nice variety of clinical recommendations, and a selection of viable and current primary research references. One of the strong points of the book is that it can be used by a large assortment of both fitness and healthcare professionals because it contains enough scientific information to keep fairly educated readers interested, but also contains enough basic information necessary for the less experienced clinician as well. The book also contains a large reference section for those interested in obtaining primary references.
Assessment: This provides a nice current overview of the concept of flexibility. The book helps to present the current primary evidence in relation to flexibility, and helps to concentrate much of the information currently available on the topic of flexibility in a way that can be used both clinically and conceptually. The third edition was justified in that it presents more current material.

2 Stars from Doody
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780736048989
  • Publisher: Human Kinetics Publishers
  • Publication date: 3/31/2004
  • Edition description: REV
  • Edition number: 3
  • Pages: 368
  • Product dimensions: 8.48 (w) x 11.26 (h) x 1.12 (d)

Meet the Author

Michael J. Alter, MS, is a former gymnast, coach, and nationally certified men's gymnastics judge. Currently a high school history teacher, Alter has authored two previous editions of Science of Flexibility, as well as the Sport Stretch series.

Alter has been a guest lecturer at annual meetings across the country, including the Chiropractic Sports Science Symposium and the Scientific Meeting of the North American Society of Pediatric Exercise Medicine. He earned his master's degree in health education from Florida International University.

In his leisure time, Alter enjoys working out, writing, and listening to classical music.

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Table of Contents

Unit I: Overview: Basic Sciences Related to Flexibility
Chapter 1. Modern Overview of Flexibility and Stretching

-Defining Flexibility

-Differences Among Flexibility, Hypermobility, Joint Laxity, and Joint Instability

-Nature of Flexibility

-Flexibility-Training Program

-Benefits of a Flexibility-Training Program

Chapter 2. Topics in Osteology and Arthrology

-Classifications of Study

-Classification of Joints and Their Influence on Motion

-Types of Motion

-Relationship Between Bone Growth and Flexibility

-Wolff's Law

-Close-Packed Position and Its Relation to Flexibility

-Loose-Packed Position and Its Relation to Flexibility

Chapter 3. Contractile Components of Muscle: Limiting Factors of Flexibility

-General Overview of Skeletal Muscles

-Composition of Myofibrils and Their Constituents

-Regions of the Sarcomere

-Ultrastructure of the Connecting, or Gap Filament: Titin

-Sarcomere Structural Bridges

-Theory of Contraction

-Theory of Muscular Relaxation

-Theoretical Limit of Muscular Elongation

-Modifying the “Classic” Sliding Filament Model

-Additional Limitations to Range of Motion

-Effects of Immobilization

-Mechanism of Passive Stretch on Myofibrillogenesis

-Proposed Methods of Modulating Gene Expression via Stretching

Chapter 4. Connective Tissue: A Limiting Factor of Flexibility

-Collagenous Tissue

-Ultrastructure of Collagenous Tissue

-Elastic Tissue

-Relationship Between Collagenous and Elastic Fibers

-Structures Composed of Connective Tissue

-Effects of Immobilization on Connective Tissue

-Metabolic and Nutritional Influences on Connective Tissue

Chapter 5. Mechanical and Dynamic Properties of Soft Tissues


-Soft Tissues


-Vascular Tissue

-Peripheral Nerves

-Factors Affecting the Mechanical Properties of Connective Tissues, Muscles, and Nerves

-Need for Additional Research

Unit II: Clinical Considerations
Chapter 6. Neuroscience of Flexibility

-Sensory Receptors Related to Stretching

-Reflexes and Other Spinal Neural Circuits


-Plasticity of the Spinal Cord Neural Circuits

-Neurological and Other Factors of Flexibility Training

Chapter 7. Hypermobility of the Joint


-Assessment of Joint Hypermobility

-Determining Factors of Hypermobility

-Consequences of Hypermobility

-General Management of Hypermobility

-Inherited Syndromes

-Research Perspectives in Heritable Disorders of Connective Tissue

-Additional Issues


Chapter 8. Relaxation

-Defining Relaxation

-Measuring Relaxation

-Methodologies of Facilitating Muscular Relaxation

Chapter 9. Muscular Injury and Soreness: Etiology and Consequences

-Damaged or Torn Muscle Hypothesis

-Damaged Connective Tissue Hypothesis

-Hypothesis of Metabolic Accumulation or Osmotic Pressure and Swelling

-Lactic Acid Accumulation Hypothesis

-Hypothesis of Localized Spasm of Motor Units

-Predisposing Factors of Delayed Muscle Soreness

-Trauma and Overload Injury to the Musculature and Connective Tissues

-Medical Management of Acute Soft Tissue Injuries

-Effects of Mechanical Stress on Elasticity and Strength of Collagen in Scar Tissue

Chapter 10. Special Factors in Flexibility

-Children and Flexibility Development

-Gender Differences in Flexibility

-Body Build and Flexibility

-Racial Differences in Flexibility

-Genetics and Flexibility

-Dominant Laterality and Flexibility

-Warming Up and Cooling Down

-Strength Training and Flexibility

-Circadian Variations and Flexibility

Chapter 11. Social Facilitation and Psychology in Developing Flexibility

-Effects of an Audience on Developing Flexibility Through Stretching

-Theoretical Aspects of Mental Training

-Cybernetic Stretch

-Ideokinetic Imagery

-Psychosomatic Factors

-Psychology of Compliance in Flexibility Training, Injury Prevention, and Rehabilitation Programs

Unit III: Principles of Stretching
Chapter 12. Stretching Concepts


-Overstretching Principle

-Flexibility-Training Methods

-Retention of Flexibility

-Requisite Knowledge for Stretching

-Potential Factors Influencing Flexibility (ROM)

-Additional Principles of Stretching

Chapter 13. Types and Varieties of Stretching

-Traditional Classifications of Stretching

-Additional Classifications

-Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation

-Additional Stretching Techniques


-Manipulation and Chiropractic Adjustment


-Nontraditional Stretching Devices

Chapter 14. Controversy Over Stretching and Controversial Stretches

-Flexibility Continuum

-X-Rated Exercises

-No Absolute “No-Nos”

Chapter 15. Stretching and Special Populations

-Flexibility and the Geriatric Population

-Flexibility and Pregnancy

-Flexibility and People With Physical Disabilities

Unit IV: Anatomical (or Regional) Aspects of Flexibility and Stretching
Chapter 16. Anatomy and Flexibility of the Lower Extremity and Pelvic Girdle

-The Foot and Toes

-The Ankle Joint

-The Lower Leg

-The Knee Joint

-The Upper Leg

-The Pelvic Region

-The Hip Joint

Chapter 17. Anatomy and Flexibility of the Vertebral Column

-Gross Anatomy of the Vertebral Column

-Function of the Vertebral Column

-The Vertebrae

-The Intervertebral Disks

-The Vertebral Ligaments

-Limits on Range of Motion of the Thoracic-Lumbar Region

-Interrelationship of Stretching the Lower Back, Pelvis, and Hamstrings

-The Cervical Vertebrae

-Movements of the Cervical Region

Chapter 18. Anatomy and Flexibility of the Upper Extremity

-The Shoulder Girdle and Arm

-The Elbow Joint and Forearm Region

-The Wrist Joint

Unit V: Specific Disciplines
Chapter 19. Functional Aspects of Stretching and Flexibility

-Aesthetic Aspect of Skills

-Biomechanical Aspect of Skills: ROM

-Additional Impediments

-Jogging, Running, and Sprinting

-Swimming and Water Polo

-Throwing and Projecting


-Weight Lifting, Power Lifting, and Bodybuilding

-Rib Cage Flexibility, Performance, and Respiration

-Springboard and Platform Diving


-Ballet and Other Forms of Dance



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