The Importance of Flexibility and How to Improve It
One element of health and fitness that is often overlooked is flexibility. But why is flexibility so important? Well, the simple explanation is that flexible joints require less energy to move through a greater range of motion. This decreases your overall risk of injury and increases physical performance as well.
When thinking about flexibility, our minds often point us straight towards yoga and pilates, however, it is not simply hyper-flexibility that we should be concerned with. Flexibility has much more impact on our everyday wellbeing and ee need flexibility to perform simple everyday tasks comfortably. Even things that sound simple require flexibility. Whether it is rolling over to switch off our alarm clocks, pushing the vacuum around the house or putting food away in the fridge, flexibility all counts in improving our ability to do these tasks.
However, like many things in life, flexibility tends to deteriorate with age and with this loss of mobility, comes a loss of posture and a multitude of aches and pains. With this in mind, it becomes super important to follow our guide to improve flexibility for your overall wellbeing. Enjoy!
How to improve your flexibility:
Stretching should be considered an important part of your everyday routine but as a minimum should be included before and after every workout. A good flexibility regime will incorporate regular, light sessions of 5 – 10 minutes at least once a day and like strength and cardio, training should overload the body enough to improve it without pushing it too hard. Stretching should never be painful, but should bring the muscles to a point of slight tension.
Types of stretching:
We separate stretching out into two types:
Dynamic: Dynamic activities are any stretches or exercises that involve joint movement that extend the joints through a full range of motion. Dynamic stretching should be done before exercise to ensure the muscles are properly warmed up and that joints are supple.
Static: A static stretch is one that is held in a challenging but comfortable position for a period of time, usually somewhere between 10 to 30 seconds. Static stretching is the most common form of stretching found in general fitness and is considered safe and effective for improving overall flexibility, however, static stretching should only be carried out when the muscles are warmed up, most commonly, after exercise.
3 full body stretches to include in your routine:
Including some full body stretches into your routine is a great way not to miss body parts and these three are ideal for loosening those limbs following a workout:
Runner’s Stretch (4 Reps):
Place your right foot forward
Lower into a lunge
Place your fingertips on the floor or as far as you can
Take a deep breath in
Exhale as you straighten your right leg
Slowly return to the lunge position.
Standing Side Stretch (3 Reps):
Stand with feet together and arms straight overhead
Clasp your hands together with your fingers linked and extended
Take a deep breath in as you reach up
Exhale as you bend your upper body to the right
Slowly return to the center
Repeat on the left side
Seated Back Twist (2 Reps):
Sit on the floor with your legs straight
Bend your right knee and step your right foot over your left leg
Place your right hand on the floor for support
Bend your left elbow and turn to the right
Place the back of your arm against your right knee
Take a deep breath in as you sit tall
Exhale out as you twist
Press your arm into your leg and look over your right shoulder
Hold for five breaths, then slowly return to the center
Flexibility training – the rules:
When it comes to improving flexibility keeping it simple is the key. If you follow these few simple rules you should do just fine, but remember, it can be detrimental to your health if your technique is off or you flex too far so remember:
Don’t push your muscles too hard
Regulate your breathing to oxygenate your muscles
Don’t cut corners and be organized in your approach
Don’t stretch cold muscles
And most importantly don’t forget to #compressforsuccess
Compression wrapping helps stabilize joints and encourage blood flow in muscles to help you stretch safely.