Flexibility: The Often Neglected Cornerstone Of Fitness You Need To Train Daily
Whether you completed cardio or pumped iron it may be difficult to squeeze in a little stretch time after a hard session. It’s easy to neglect stretching and flexibility as a whole. Flexibility is one of the cornerstones of fitness and a healthy body should remain flexible. Regardless of your workout or daily routine, stretching and maintaining a level of flexibility should be on your list of things to do.
Think of flexibility as linked to range of motion (ROM); your joint must be able to move through its range of motion without pain or discomfort. Flexible joints mean improved posture, muscle balance, and in some ways improved performance. An adequate level of flexibility throughout your body also means a reduced risk of tight muscles.
As we age our flexibility deteriorates and muscle shortening occurs over time. Our posture and body alignment also influences our range of motion as prolonged poor posture can lead to muscle shortening even in younger crowds. Poor flexibility means difficulty when performing regular activities and could lead to pain problems, tight muscles, and joint stiffness.
Overly tight muscles could lead to pain problems like lower back pain, but our risk of injury in general increases. When our body is tight in different areas we sometimes compensate by changing the way we perform activities of daily living. This may in turn lead to injury.
According to a study on flexibility published in the American Journal of Physiology, poor flexibility could potentially lead to arterial stiffening. Arterial stiffening is called arteriosclerosis and it influences how hard your heart has to work to pump blood through your body. Myocardial infarction (i.e. heart attack) and stroke are both a direct consequence of atherosclerosis.
By staying active and stretching regularly, loss of mobility and many of the issues listed can be managed. Flexibility training can help improve muscle balance as it will help maintain proper muscle length. Improve flexibility by performing activities safely and through their full ROM.
Flexibility training can take various forms and may be incorporated into a session. Yoga is a prime example of flexibility training, but not the only form.
Static and dynamic stretches are the most common methods used to improve flexibility.
In static stretching you safely and carefully hold a stretch for 10-30 seconds never forcing yourself into a position. In dynamic stretching you mimic the movement patterns of the activities you are about to engage. An example of dynamic stretching is performing body weight squats before performing heavy squats, or speed walking before running. As a rule of thumb: Stretch after a warm up and never when muscles are unready.
With our NPI-Certified Goniometry Specialist™ program you can learn how to assess flexibility using a goniometer. This nifty little device alongside the information learned in our program can change someone’s life forever. Now you will have the tools to determine if someone is closer to injury or in their best alignment.
Check out the program here: NPI-Certified Goniometry Specialist™