Most people don’t care about flexibility. They are more worried about crafting a perfect butt or shredded abs.
But athletes who give importance to flexibility have a huge edge in terms of long-term fitness. By the end of this article, you’ll be wondering why you didn’t hop on the “flexibility train” sooner.
Flexibility can be properly defined as the ability of a joint to move along a range of motion known as ROM (from the Range of Movement). It is a skill that can be developed over time.
Flexibility training, and specifically “stretching,” helps to balance muscle groups that may be over-used by exercise or poor posture.
Here are the top benefits of improving your level of flexibility:
Flexibility Prevents Injuries
When you improve your flexibility, you are better prepared to take on impact and HIIT exercises without suffering the risks of major injuries.
Most sports professionals agree that stretching decreases resistance in the structures of joint tissue. We have less of a possibility of injuring ourselves when we have some extensibility in the tissue during intense or reoccurring activity.
Recent studies show that static and slow stretching helps reduce post-exercise muscle discomfort. Static stretching involves the elongation of the muscle slowly, gradually and controlled throughout the range of motion.
Typically these stretches are held for 15 to 30 seconds in the most distant position and comfortably (without pain). Stretching also improves muscle balance and posture. The soft tissue structure of many people has adapted poorly to the effects of gravity and/or poor postural habits.
Stretching can help to realign soft tissue structures, reducing the effort involved in reaching and maintaining good posture in the activities of daily life including exercise and sports.
Reduces Risk for Pain in the Lower Back
Nobody wants to have a kinked back. When it becomes too painful, a therapist might recommend surgery or a foam roller.
A key benefit of flexibility, that I wish more people were aware of is that stretching reduces the risk of pain in the lower back.
What do studies say?
According to Web MD exercises and stretching promotes muscle relaxation.
Flexibility reduces muscle discomfort and adds to your postural improvement.
A muscle in constant contraction requires more energy to be able to fulfill the activity to perform: This can affect a smooth movement, the stability of the joint, or the neutralization of other muscles or tissues.
For example, the quadriceps and other muscles connected to the pelvis reduce stress in the lower back area.
Flexibility Reduces Tightness and Common Post-Workout Pain
Stretching causes muscle relaxation, which will motivate healthy nutrition flow and releasing of toxins from the area. This is reflected directly in the muscle’s performance.
When you reduce accumulated toxins reduces the muscle’s potential to shorten or contract and in turn reduces the point of fatigue.
Joint Pain Reduction
A common cause of post-workout pain is stress to the joint structures, especially the synovial fluid–a lubricating fluid that promotes the transport of more nutrients to the cartilage of the joints.
Another great benefit is that stretching increases the blood supply and nutrients to joint structures. This allows a greater elasticity around the tissues helping to improve the performance. Stretching can also increase the synovial fluid of the joint.
Flexibility training increases the temperature of muscle tissue (and connective tissue) which in turn increases circulation and transport of nutrients. Over time, this allows a greater range of motion and reduces the degeneration of the joint.
Better Muscle Coordination
Another recognized benefit is the improvement of neuromuscular coordination.
Studies show that nerve impulse velocity (the time it takes for an impulse to travel from the brain to the muscle and back to the central nervous system) is enhanced by stretching.
This helps the muscle groups to work in a more synergistic and coordinated way.
Promotes the Enjoyment of Physical Activity
Let’s face it. Even though you aren’t doing backflips or pumping up your biceps, flexibility training can be challenging and fun.
You feel better about yourself during the day, you have greater confidence when you can hold a posture in many positions, and your body gets a chance to recover properly from the normal routine.
Interesting Things to Note
Stretching can be done in pairs, which is more entertaining and comfortable because the partner is a good tool to adjust and support the posture of stretching.
Additionally, from the social point of view, this practice facilitates and promotes communication between individuals (for example in fitness classes, face-to-face courses, clinics, sports meetings or competitions).
The “fitball” or foam roller can facilitate flexibility work and add an apex of difficulty by imposing and adding stability and pressure if desired.
As you can see, flexibility training is one of the key components within the balance conditioning, coordination, and stability program and should be part of your exercise routines.
Workout Products you May Be Interested In:
Flexibility training not only reduces muscle discomfort; it improves performance and keeps the body both relaxed and safe. Check out a Good Flexible Workout for Men here.
Without flexibility training, you’re overlooking an important factor in your overall health. It provides many important benefits that cannot be achieved by performing other exercises or activities.
It is one of the best healthy “life-long fitness” alternatives for both body and mind and leads to personal gratification.
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