Why is Flexibility So Vital?
Stretching regularly keeps muscles long, supple, and pliable rather than tight, short, and dense. It helps you maneuver in a smooth, fluid manner, rather than jerky, rigid movements. In addition, flexibility training has the following benefits:
Increases Range of Motion
As you age, your range of motion at a joint slowly decreases. You can combat this gradual decline in range of motion by implementing regular stretching into your daily routine.
Even a few gentle stretches held for 20 seconds or more are enough to maintain flexibility. To increase flexibility, deeper stretches that are held longer are recommended.
Increases Joint Mobility
To a certain extent, genetics are a factor. Joints are hinged together a certain way at birth.
However, with regular flexibility training, you can increase your range of motion at a joint, which, in turn, increases joint mobility.
According to the Aerobics and Fitness Association of America: stretching 3 to 5 times per week for each major muscle group will enable everyone to see flexibility gains.
Increases Energy and Reduces Stress
Stretching increases blood circulation to the muscles. By increasing blood circulation, your body will feel more energized and invigorated. So put down that afternoon coffee or energy drink and try some stretching instead! This energy boost will help get you through the rest of your day without a sugar or caffeine “crash.” Focusing on breathing along with stretching will also help reduce stress and help your mental focus and outlook.
Increases Range of Motion
Today’s society is filled with sitting: at a computer, in a car, texting, notebooking, etc. Consequently our posture suffers. More and more people are suffering from back and neck pain from bad posture. How often do you see someone standing with perfect alignment while texting on their cellphone? Never!
If you look closely, you will see their upper back hunched forward slightly and their head down looking at their phone. This postural deviation is referred to as kyphosis: a hunchback position of the upper back caused by over tightening of the chest muscles and an overstretching between the shoulder blades or rhomboid area in the upper back. When we stand hunched over on a regular basis, our muscles start to become unbalanced. Eventually our posture will slowly change causing back and/or neck pain.
To alleviate this condition, work on exercises that contract the upper back muscles such as scapular squeezes and reverse flys. In addition, regular stretching of the chest and anterior deltoids is recommended.
Prevents Injuries & Helps You Heal Faster When Injuries Occur
When muscles are more elastic, they respond faster to protect against injury. Most injuries occur when the body part is pulled beyond its normal range of motion.
The end result being a muscle pull, tear, or worst case scenario, a separation from the bone. Regular stretching helps the body increase range of motion and respond quicker when overstretched.
Decreases Muscle Soreness
Stretching increases blood flow which helps repair the muscles after they are broken down with weight bearing exercise. Bringing the muscle back to its length and slowly increasing the length decreases soreness post workout.