Flexibility: the ability of joints and body parts to move in a full, unhindered range of motion.
Believe it or not, flexibility is required for all your day-to-day activities, including bending, walking, lifting objects, and even sitting down. Without flexibility, your muscles could not remain mobile or move in various ways. Because flexibility can decrease throughout your life for many different reasons, it is important to maintain a functional level of flexibility as you age.
The Benefits of Flexibility:
When you are physically flexible, there are a number of benefits to be had. First, flexibility helps with reducing soreness in muscles after an intense workout. So runners and gym-goers can truly benefit from introducing a few specific stretches to their regimen. What's more, flexibility can even improve your overall posture. In other words, if you stand lopsidedly, adding some flexibility training to your regimen might just straighten you out!
Other benefits include:
- Improves muscular balance
- Realigns tissue
- Decreases risk of injury in both young and old bodies
- Improves performance in both everyday activities as well as sports-related performance
- Flexible joints move more easily
- Increases blood flow to tissues, facilitating adequate transport of vitamins and nutrients to the muscles, ligaments, tendons, and joints
- Increases body temperature
- Reduces lower back pain
- Relaxes muscles
Ways to Improve Your Flexibility:
Depending on who you are speaking with, increasing your flexibility is often referred to as “flexibility training.” Yoga is not the sole method for improving your stretchiness.
In order to see an increase in flexibility, you must do the following:
- Try to include some stretching after every single workout. That means working your flexibility actively at least 4 to 7 days a week.
- Never stretch to the point where it is painful. Focus less on the “no pain, no gain” adage and work to improve your overall flexibility through gentle, active stretching (like yoga or pilates).
- When you are not doing yoga, the standard flexibility training duration is anywhere from 5 to 10 minutes. You can go longer, but ideally, your stretches take place both before and after any resistance and aerobic workouts.
Different Types of Stretches:
This type of flexibility training involves moving a specific joint through a full range of motion (ROM) at a comfortable point and holding for 20 to 30 seconds. The goal is the overcome the stretch reflex, coaxing the ROM to get fuller upon every repetition. Ever notice how getting your heels to the floor in Downward-Facing Dog gets easier throughout class? That is static stretching.
This style of stretching works by increasing the ROM through movement. An example would be swinging the leg loosely in the hip joint like a pendulum. It is a light warm-up that eases away tension in the joint.
Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation (PNF) Stretching
This is an advanced form of flexibility training encompassing both the stretching and contracting muscular groups. You will need assistance from either an instructor or therapist. There are various types but the main ones are contracting and relaxing certain muscles. It works by holding and relaxing as an assistant pushes against the muscle/region that needs stretching. There is rhythmic stabilization, where manual resistance is applied to areas in need of stabilisation.
This involves dangerous, bouncing movements. You will know ballistic stretching when you see it. Stay away from it, for this has a high threshold of injury.
“Blessed are the flexible, for they shall not be bent out of shape.” ~ Michael McGriffy M.D.
Flexibility is of great importance for our health…
For reasons of both movement and quality of life, flexibility has to be maintained. Otherwise we will be unable to move to the best of our ability. Utilising these techniques, try adding some stretches into your daily routine today. You are one step closer to improving your overall health!