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Yoga vs. Kung Fu March 18, 2009

Posted by Matt Brown in Fitness.
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Okay, there are two reasons why I’m posting this viedo.  Firstly because it’s arguably the craziest demonstration of flexibility I’ve ever seen.  Don’t take my word for it, just watch the video.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FrYlNNy929Y

On a more serious note, I want to say a few things regarding the yoga master’s flexibility.  While extremely impressive as a general rule hyperflexiblity of the joints, such as displayed in the video, is not usually something to be desired.  That kind of flexibility requires very loose musculature around the joints as tight muscles would not allow such range of motion.  Unfortunately, tight muscles can actually be a good thing as they contribute to jiont stability.

Think of it this way.  Every time you take a step an enormous amount of force is placed on the joints of the legs (when walking the force is equal to your body weight, when running it can be 3x your body weight.)   To counteract that force, your muscles contract to ensure joint integrity.  Tight muscles provide more stability, loose muscles provide less.  As such hyperflexibility places joints in a precarious position, increasing the risk of injury. 

Now normally I would say that the hyperflexiblity in the yoga master’s joints gives him an increased risk of injury, but I also know enough about yoga (seeing as how I teach it) to know that in addition to improving flexibility it is a wonderful strength building practice, as can be seen in the video itself.  As such I will simply end with this little bit of advice: any increase in one aspect of the body’s abilities will lead to a decrease in another, so unless you’re training for a specific event, don’t be a specialist (i.e. great flexibility, little strength), strive to be, well, an all around athlete.  After all, adaptability is what got us as a species where we are.

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