While several studies have been publicized to show how useful exercise is for your body and mind, but flexibility, an equally vital part of health and fitness, is often neglected. However, health and fitness experts agree that flexibility is an important aspect of keeping your body able and fit.
According to David Geier, the director of sports medicine at the Medical University of South Carolina, flexibility is the 3rd pillar of fitness, immediately following the first two pillars, namely, cardiovascular conditioning and strength training.
Read on here to find (i ) What does flexibility mean? (ii) Why flexibility is important for health & fitness, & (iii) 7 Benefits of good flexibility.
Before I go through the benefits of being flexible, let us first understand:
What Is Flexibility?
In simple words, flexibility is defined as the capability of your joints and body parts to achieve their full range of motion. Flexibility helps in everyday physical activities like walking, bending and lifting, etc. Being flexible enables our muscles to retain their elasticity and mobility.
But as you age, your muscles naturally lose their flexibility. And with time you find it difficult or may be unable to carry out even the common daily activities such as reaching out to overhead shelf in your kitchen, bending down to tie your shoe laces, or looking over your shoulder to back your car.
What Are The Benefits Of Flexibility?
Good flexibility not only provides a number physical fitness benefits, but also has a positive effect on your overall health and well-being. Continue reading here to learn how increased flexibility is beneficial for you.
Less Pain In Back And Other Areas Of Body
Stiff muscles in your back and lower body lead to back pain. Increasing flexibility helps prevent and reduce that pain. For instance when your hamstrings are stiff, they drag the pelvis down and thereby more pressure is passed onto your lower back. Another example is that when your hip flexors and pelvic muscles have good flexibility, there will be less stress on your spine. Same way, the more flexible are muscles in other areas of your body, the more likely they are to ease tension and soreness in the muscles – meaning you will experience lesser pains and fewer aches. Moreover, loose and less tense muscles are less prone to muscle cramps.
Increased Range of Motion
Tight muscles result into a reduced range of motion all through your body. This affects performing the day-to-day activities like picking up your child from the floor or standing up from a sitting position. More flexible muscles make such types of movements, as well as exercising, easier. It increases the range of motion all through body to help execute everyday physical activities more easily.
Less flexible muscles are more prone to injury. The tendons as well as ligaments surrounding the less flexible muscles are likely to stiffen and they too become prone to injuries. Having tight muscles reduces range of motion, and if you go beyond such limited range of motion you can injure yourself easily. By increasing flexibility, you can increase your range of motion, and thereby can reduce the probability of injuries to your muscles, tendons and ligaments.
Improved Posture And Balance
Stiff muscles can impair your spine’s alignment. On the other hand, good flexibility improves your pasture. Exercising and stretching improves flexibility, which in turn correct your alignment as well as imbalances in your body.
As per the American Council on Exercise, flexible muscles have less tension – thus you feel less stress as compared to that with a tight and tense body.
Enhanced Physical Performance
Improved flexibility allows easier and greater movements in your body parts, which makes your muscles work effectively – enabling you to perform better physically.
Positive State Of Mind
Regular stretching loosens muscles and open up your body, which in turn relaxes your mind. The physical benefits of flexibility also contribute in unwinding from stress – extending to a relaxed state of mind.
Stiffness in the muscles can reduce circulation, which can obstruct oxygen and nutrients from efficiently moving all through your body. On the other hand, if the muscles are more flexible, they relax and stimulate circulation. The act of stretching also contributes in promoting circulation and helping blood to reach the muscles and joints effectively.
As per the American College of Sports Medicine, stretching every day is recommended, especially for seniors. We recommend that you adjust your routine to include stretching at least three times a week to gain gained more flexibility.