There are three essential elements of physical fitness: cardiovascular endurance, muscular strength, and flexibility. Regrettably, flexibility is often avoided by people. Now you must be thinking, why is flexibility important? Here is an article with a discussion on flexibility, its importance, and tips to enhance flexibility.
Most people participate in aerobic activities to burn fat and enhance cardiovascular endurance. People take part in weight-training to build strength and maintain lean muscles and think that these things are sufficient for physical fitness. However, this is not true.
Fitness is equally essential to manage a healthy body and ensure physical fitness. Tight muscles can create issues throughout your body. Moreover, good flexibility helps at each and every stage of life. Adding some types of stretching in your everyday schedule can help you enhance your ease of movement.
Some people are naturally flexible, but others have to make efforts to enhance flexibility. Flexibility is associated with one’s gender, age, genetics, body shape, and level of physical activity.
What is Flexibility?
When we say flexibility, it usually means that a person can bend too much in a squat or bend and touch the toes. But trust me, the definition of flexibility is far beyond this. It is more complicated than the ability to do a single stretch.
Flexibility refers to the range of movement in a joint or a group of joints. It is the ability to move the joints through the entire range of motion effectively. In other words, it is the ability to move joints or muscles through the complete range.
Factors that Impact Flexibility
Some people are more flexible as compared to others. It is usually due to two factors: how a person trains and native physical aspects. Below mentioned are some common physical aspects that impact your flexibility.
- Body Bulk – People with bigger bodies often find it difficult to get into flexible positions.
- Age – As people get older, they tend to become less flexible.
- Connective Tissues – The extent of elasticity of the ligaments and tendons influence flexibility.
- Bone size and structure – People with large bone diameter are likely to have less flexibility.
Why is Flexibility Important?
Flexibility is one of the essential elements of physical fitness and has a wide range of positive effects on the body. For example, it helps in enhancing muscle coordination, mobility, posture, and also decreases the risk of muscle soreness and injuries.
There is higher importance of flexibility to manage a healthy body. Improving flexibility can help you in moving comfortably throughout the day. Here are some health benefits of flexibility.
Increased Range of Motions
Improved range of motion is one of the remarkable benefits of being flexible. When your muscles are tight, there is less range of motion throughout the body. It can cause trouble with day to day activities like bending to pick up a ball from the floor or even standing straight.
Flexibility can help in easing daily activities as well as it makes exercising easier. In order to enhance the ability to move and range of motion, it is a good idea to include exercises featuring full-body stretching.
Less Back Pain
Back pain is often caused by tight muscles in the back as well as lower body. Enhancing flexibility can help in preventing back pain and treating it.
Some people have short hamstrings naturally due to lack of flexibility or genetics (Source). When people have tight hamstrings, they pull down the pelvis, which creates greater pressure for the lower back.
Moreover, when the hip flexors like pelvic muscles and psoas are flexible, there is less stress on our spine. Flexibility helps in reducing the soreness and tensions that can assemble in the lower back and cause pain. Whenever you find it difficult to twist your torso, it is better to stretch the lower muscles.
Tension in our muscles impacts circulation in a negative manner. It prevents oxygen and nutrients from moving through the body adequately. When our muscles are more flexible, they are relaxed, which allows the flood to flow freely to the joints and muscles.
One of the easiest exercises to relieve tension is the Rag Doll. All you need to do is stand on your feet and then bend over from your waist. After this, close your eyes, breathe deeply, and feel the stretching of your spine and release of the tension.
If you are not flexible, you are more prone to muscle injuries, as well as ligaments and tendons (Source). When you do not stretch, the tendons present around the muscles stiffen. Tight muscles lead to a reduced range of motion, which often causes injuries with strains, sprains, and ruptures.
Improving flexibility enhances your range of motions and reduces the risk of injuries to the muscles, ligaments, and tendons. It will also help in getting rid of any muscle imbalances. In order to correct muscle imbalances, you need to strengthen the underactive muscles and stretch the muscle that is overactive.
As you become more flexible, you need to increase strength, as well. It helps in assuring that the muscles have sufficient tension and are strong enough to support the movements. It allows you to be physically fit.
When you enhance muscular flexibility, it improves your posture. Exercising and stretching allows the body to correct imbalances and have better alignment. Moreover, as the range of motion increases, you find it easier to sand and sit in specific ways. Yoga is considered best to enhance flexibility and balance.
Better Physical Performance
Flexibility leads to better movement in the body, which in turn allows better physical performance. Flexibility leads the muscles to work in a better manner, which helps enhance physical performance.
Positive Mental State
Exercising on a regular basis in poses that allow your body to stretch and open up can help in feeling relaxed. This physical benefit leads to a relaxed state of mind. It becomes easy to unwind as your body feels better.
How to Improve Flexibility?
Flexibility can occur through stretching, daily exercises, or foam rolling. Stretching is the best way to enhance flexibility. However, you do not have to spend hours stretching to improve flexibility.
You can opt for stretching classes or can watch online videos focussed on stretching exercises in order to enhance the range of motion in the entire body.
The stretching programs usually begin with a warm-up to enhance the temperature of your body. Then, they proceed through a series of stretching exercises with the intent to lengthen the muscles present in your feet, legs, hips, and torso. Finally, they reach the head and neck.
There are three main types of stretching to enhance flexibility.
It includes moving in and out in a position that lengthens the target muscles. This type of stretching involves moving through the full range of motion of a joint with quickly or slowly to mimic a functional activity.
It includes moving into a position that allows lengthening a target muscle. Then you need to hold the same position for around 15-60 seconds. You need to breathe properly while holding each stretch.
Active Isolated Stretching
In this type of stretching, you need to move your joint to carry out a complete range of motion. You need to hold the endpoint and then come back to the starting point and then repeat. Many active exercisers and athletes use active isolated stretching with the intent to avoid muscle imbalance or injuries.
Tips to Enhance Flexibility
In order to improve flexibility, you do not need to take regular flexibility training. You can add a few minutes of stretching to your post workout routine to improve your range of motion and to relax muscles.
You can also do stretching for around 5-10 minutes in the morning after getting out of the bed. A few minutes of flexibility training can render a wide range of benefits.
Stretching your body can make it flexible and enhance your overall physical activeness. The above-mentioned information on why flexibility is important explains the importance and benefits of flexibility appropriately. If you like the above-mentioned information, drop a comment.