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Flexibility Training

Dedicated athletes looking for an edge in their field of competition need an exercise regimen based on four critical areas of training. These four areas increase speed, size, and power in any athlete. They include (1) flexibility (2) core strength (3) explosive movements, and (4) the strengthening of the posterior kinetic chain.  When combined with an upper body strength routine one can almost guarantee improvement on the court, the field or the ice. In this piece, we’ll focus on the flexibility component of athletic training and conditioning.

Importance of Flexibility

Increasing an athlete’s flexibility (as well as warming up prior to workouts) helps to decrease risk of injury. If an athlete lacks flexibility he/she is unable to enjoy a full range of muscular motion. Think about a new rubber band. It stretches only to a point before snapping. By ‘working’ it, repetitively, it stretches further and further without snapping. Much like your muscles. Not being able to perform an exercise completely, through a full range of motion, makes the exercise or movement incomplete or stilted. That lack of flexibility, in combination with other factors such as inadequate recovery periods, unbalanced training and/or using poor form all inhibit muscular development.

More often than not, flexibility in athletics is incorrectly incorporated into an exercise routine. It’s dangerous to stretch cold muscles. Performing a ‘dynamic’ warm up before a workout, event or game instead of static stretching is the best option. A dynamic warm-up may include movements such as walking lunges, knee raises, butt kicks, arm circles and squats. You don’t need equipment – use your own body-weight only.

Active Vs Passive Stretching for enhancing Flexibility

Passive stretching involves using an external force to push a joint beyond its active range of motion. Performing a standing calf stretch against a wall or using a partner to push you into a deeper stretch are examples of passive stretching. Instead of passive stretches, engage in ‘active’ stretching exercises. Active stretching uses your own muscular strength and effort to hold a position. Active (isolated) stretching is safe and effective as you eliminate external forces. You use your own muscle strength to achieve the desired range of motion. As the one muscle contracts the target muscle (opposite the contracting muscle – the one you want to stretch) relaxes and lengthens.

An example of an ‘active’ stretch for the chest is extending your arms out to the sides and retracting your shoulder blades. To actively stretch the hamstrings, extend your leg straight in front of you and relax it by contracting the quadriceps. When you contract your quadriceps, your brain sends a signal to your hamstrings to ‘relax.’ This allows you to achieve a deeper stretch without force.

Now that we’ve covered flexibility, we’ll move on to the second major component in athletic training and conditioning: core strength.

Mango Nutrition: Calories in Mango

About the Mango Fruit

The mango is a large fruit that grows on trees in sub-tropical and tropical climates. Originating in Southeast Asia, where it has been cultivated for 4,000 years. Mango trees are actually evergreens that will grow up to 60 feet tall but fruit an average of 5 years after planting. Mango trees yield the best crops during hot, dry periods. The U.S. imports most of its mangos from Mexico, Haiti, the Caribbean and South America but grows them in Florida as well. You’ll find mangos in the produce section of your grocery store. Choose mangos that are slightly firm, blemish-free with a sweet aroma and no sap on the skin. After storing at room temperature for 1 to 2 days, store cut up, peeled mango in the refrigerator.

Mango Fruit: Most Interesting Facts

You may not know that: there are over 1,000 different varieties of mango worldwide and, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, mangos are the most widely consumed fruit in the world!! Depending upon the time of year, you can usually find one of six mango tropical fruit varieties available for purchase in the U.S. They are ‘in-season’ in spring. The most widely available commercial variety in the U.S. is the ‘Tommy Atkins’ mango which is available from March – July and October – January. In June look for other varieties, including the Ataulfo, Haden, Francis and Kent mangos.

Mangos, like another tropical fruit, the papaya, contains unique enzymes that aid in proper digestion. The enzymes in unripe (green) and ripe mangos are very good tenderizing agents. Mangos are an excellent ingredient addition to any meat marinade recipe. In fact, in India, a sour powder which contains ground up green mango, is used for seasoning and tenderizing.

Mango Calories and Nutrition

One cup of sliced, raw mango (without skin) offers 107 calories, 0 g fat, 1 g protein, 28 g carbohydrate, 24 g sugars, 3 g dietary fiber and 3 mg sodium. Mangos have a very distinctive, sweet flavor and a yellow-orange flesh. It is an excellent source of vitamin C. One cup of slice, raw mango provides 45.7 mg vitamin C, meeting 3/4 of the average daily requirement for this nutrient. This fruit is also an excellent source of vitamin A (in the form of beta-carotene), meeting 25% of the recommended daily value. Vitamins A and C act as antioxidants, protecting your body’s cells from free radical damage and giving your immune system a boost. Mangos are a good source of the trace mineral copper, which, along with vitamin C, is needed to form collagen and, along with iron, form hemoglobin to transport oxygen throughout the body.


Eat mango fresh or peel, cut and freeze it (or purchase it in frozen chunks) to use in smoothies. Because they are so sweet, they work well in any smoothie, especially green smoothie recipes to off-set the bitterness of leafy greens. If you’ve got a high-powered blender, try this green smoothie recipe (no measurements, a ‘handful’ works but use your judgement and taste buds for portions): layer, in order: green grapes and/or watermelon; fresh baby spinach, one carrot, 1/4 apple, 1/4 to 1/2 avocado, 1/2 cup plain yogurt, a handful of frozen pineapple chunks and mango chunks and a splash of coconut milk, soy milk or regular skim milk (may or may not wish to add a squeeze of honey). Blend well and enjoy!

Mangos pair well with poultry and work in marinades, on salads, in fish tacos, chutney, salsa and on skewers with pork or shrimp for fun dinners. Try this mango coconut rice recipe. You can even use mangos to prepare fun, tasty alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks or sweet and savory salsa and chutney. If you love mango juice, don’t buy it bottled but make it fresh to reap greater health benefits and better flavor. That way, you can control the sugar content – remember, you don’t need much as mangos are so sweet.