What Are the Benefits of Flexibility
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Flexibility is a joint's ability to move
through a full range of motion. Flexibility training (stretching) helps balance
muscle groups that might be overused during exercise or physical activity or as
a result of bad posture. It's important to clearly understand the many benefits
that result from a good flexibility program.
Performance and Decreased Risk of Injury
First, a safe and
effective flexibility training program increases physical performance. A
flexible joint has the ability to move through a greater range of motion and
requires less energy to do so, while greatly decreasing your risk of injury.
Most professionals agree that stretching decreases resistance in tissue
structures; you are, therefore, less likely to become injured by exceeding
tissue extensibility (maximum range of tissues) during activity.
Reduced Muscle Soreness and Improved Posture
studies show that slow, static stretching helps reduce muscle soreness after
exercise. Static stretching involves a slow, gradual and controlled elongation
of the muscle through the full range of motion and held for 15-30 seconds in
the furthest comfortable position (without pain). Stretching also improves
muscular balance and posture. Many people's soft-tissue structures has adapted
poorly to either the effects of gravity or poor postural habits. Stretching can
help realign soft tissue structures, thus reducing the effort it takes to
achieve and maintain good posture in the activities of daily living.
Reduced Risk of Low Back Pain
A key benefit, and one I
wish more people would realize, is that stretching reduces the risk of low back
pain. Stretching promotes muscular relaxation. A muscle in constant contraction
requires more energy to accomplish activities. Flexibility in the hamstrings,
hip flexors, quadriceps, and other muscles attaching to the pelvis reduces
stress to the low back. Stretching causes muscular relaxation, which encourages
healthy nutrition directly to muscles; the resulting reduction in accumulated
toxins reduces the potential for muscle shortening or tightening and thus
Increased Blood and Nutrients to
Another great benefit is that stretching increases blood
supply and nutrients to joint structures. Stretching increases tissue
temperature, which in turn increases circulation and nutrient transport. This
allows greater elasticity of surrounding tissues and increases performance.
Stretching also increases joint synovial fluid, which is a lubricating fluid
that promotes the transport of more nutrients to the joints' atricular
cartilage. This allows a greater range of motion and reduces joint
Improved Muscle Coordination
little-known benefit is increased neuromuscular coordination. Studies show that
nerve-impulse velocity (the time it takes an impulse to travel to the brain and
back) is improved with stretching. This helps opposing muscle groups work in a
more synergistic, coordinated fashion.
Enhanced Enjoyment of
Flexibility training also means enhanced
enjoyment, and a fitness program should be fun if you want to stick with it.
Not only does stretching decrease muscle soreness and increase performance, it
also helps relax both mind and body and brings a heightened sense of well-being
and personal gratification during exercise.
As you can see, flexibility
training is one of the key components of a balanced fitness program and should
be a part of your exercise routine. Without flexibility training, you are
missing an important part of overall health. Flexibility training provides many
important benefits that cannot be achieved by any other exercise or activity.
Good luck: I hope you enjoy all the wonderful benefits of an effective
flexibility training program.