Flexibility is one of the key elements of good physical health. Over time, though, your body may lose flexibility due to aging, a sedentary lifestyle, stress, or improper posture and movement habits.
Increasing your flexibility strengthens your joints, reduces your risk of injury, and enhances your balance.
Why is flexibility important?
Increasing your flexibility is good for you in many ways. Some of the most important benefits include:
Greater range of motion. Increased flexibility makes it easier to move your joints in a normal direction with less effort.
Less muscle tension. Stretching your muscles can help release tension and tightness, making it easier to move.
Better posture. Tight, tense muscles can lead to muscle strain and poor posture.
Less pain. When your muscles aren’t tense, there’s usually less stress and pressure on certain parts of your body and, as a result, less pain in your back, neck, and shoulders.
Lower risk of injuries. Greater strength and flexibility in your muscles and joints may make you less prone to injuries.
Less stress. When tension is released in your muscles, it may help you feel more relaxed. In turn, that may lower your stress levels.
Improved circulation. Better blood flow may help your muscles recover more quickly after a workout and also prevent stiffness.
Developing a Stretching Routine
Stretching exercises increase your flexibility by working your muscles and tendons, the elastic tissue that connects muscles to bones. Some studies suggest that stretching may also increase your muscle mass and endurance.
1. Warm up. Stretching warm muscles is safer and easier. Do most of your
stretching at the end of your workout. If you like to stretch in advance, walk
around for a few minutes first.
2. Proceed gradually. Gentle stretching yields faster results than pushing yourself too hard. When you force a stretch, you create scar tissue in your body that limits your mobility. Skip any exercise that causes sudden discomfort. Talk with your doctor if you have any concerns.
3. Vary your approach. Your body needs time to adapt to unfamiliar movements. In some sessions, you may want to hold a stretch for a few minutes or more. Other times, you might repeat a cycle of brief stretches several times. It also helps to learn a wide assortment of exercises that you can draw from on different days.
4. Sit less. You’ve probably seen studies about how sitting can interfere with your mental and physical health. Spend more time on your feet. Try out a standing desk or take breaks every half hour at work to stretch and stroll around. When you sit at your desk, hold your back straight and adjust your chair so that your knees and elbows are at right angles.
5. Try a Yoga Class. If you’re ready to boost your flexibility, regularly practicing yoga, whether at a class or at home, may be one of the best ways to increase mobility in your muscles and joints.
Being flexible and able to move easily is an important aspect of your physical health. But stress, age, lack of exercise, and improper posture can cause your muscles to become tense and tight, which can limit your flexibility.
Doing a regular routine of stretching or yoga is a highly effective way of easing tension in your muscles and building flexibility. The key is to start slowly and gradually increase the amount of time you can hold a pose with the correct form.
If you are interested in improving your flexibility but need a little help and motivation join THE FABULOUSLY FLEXIBILITY CHALLENGE running from April 1st-14th.