Flexibility is the range of motion of a joint or a group of joints. It’s often associated with the mobility of muscle groups that allow for greater movement around the joints, and is extremely important if we want to remain independent and enjoy a productive and active life.
1. Keeping your muscles flexible and limber can reduce your chance of injury.
When our brains tells our body to move it usually does what it’s told. But, if our body is not supple and our muscles are tight, the movement will come from another part of the body. For example: if we need to bend over from the hips, but we have tight hamstrings, the movement might instead come from the lower back, potentially causing an injury.
2. Stretching can give you more energy.
When we have chronically tight muscles, those muscles are essentially under a constant contraction, and using energy. Stretching and improving flexibility can help the muscles relax, breaking the cycle of constant tensing, giving us more energy for other things.
3. Flexibility and stretching exercises can make you happy.
Yes that’s right, by opening up tight muscles through a stretch, toxins from those muscles will be transported away, and replaced by nutrients and oxygen needed for repair. This will release endorphins and you’ll feel great.
4. Don’t stretch cold muscles.
Stretching to improve flexibility before exercising should be fluid, functional and not static. If we try to perform a static stretch on a cold muscle that muscle could go into spasm and/or place undue stress on the adjacent joint, and in the worst case it could result in an injury. Stretching before exercising should mimic the exercises we intend to do during the exercise session. For example: If we are about to train the shoulders we should take ourselves through some movements that allow for those muscles to get warm and get some blood to them such as shoulder circles.
And remember when you’re stretching don’t forget to Breathe!