There are so many reasons for you to keep on top of your flexibility (and not only so you can do the splits!). Being flexible does not mean you need to be able to contort your body into crazy shapes, but be able to move your body properly and access a full range of motion in order to keep you feeling better for longer.
Why is flexibility important
You may have attended gymnastics or dance classes as a child and could pull off a back spring with your eyes closed, but most adults who have dropped those habits over time, though your brain recalls exactly how the move is meant to be done, have neither malleable enough muscles nor mobile enough joints to absorb the shock of the once 'routine' trick.
Flexible joints decrease the risk of injury as we age and increase physical performance as well. Stretching and proper exercise recovery can work towards decreasing resistance in muscle tissue during any activity and helps increase blood and nutrients to tissues, so can be looked at hand-in-hand with flexibility.
Why improve flexibility – the benefits
1. To avoid injury
Most injuries that we see in the fitness industry are caused by a lack of flexibility. Exercise requires your body to move in all sorts of planes of motion, and puts a great deal of pressure on your muscles, ligaments and tendons and they need to be stretched steadily and over time to be able to go to those limits.
2. To train more efficiently
It's simple – the more range of motion you can achieve during exercise, the more you will get out of it. You will be able to squat lower, deadlift correctly and open all sorts of doors to learning new and more technical moves such as Olympic lifting.
3. To improve posture
With our daily life habits such as looking down at our phone, and spending many hours at a desk causing our posture to change over time, our muscles tighten up to accommodate it. Continually stretching, and working on mobility will help to loosen up muscles that will help you to stand and sit straight and avoid injuries creeping up on you.
4. To get the lean look
As crazy as it sounds, there is an aesthetic reason for keeping flexible. It will keep your muscles looking long and lean rather than 'bulky' and the simple fact of avoiding injury means you will be able to train more often and have a better chance of getting leaner and stronger.
How to improve flexibility
We now know that it's important to have good flexibility so you don't injure yourself. And it doesn't just apply to athletes: anyone can hurt themselves if they happen to move the wrong way and overstretch a tight muscle. If you feel like your workout routine is limited because of tight hamstrings, back, joints or any other reason, why not try stretching or yoga? Stretching is important at all ages, since much flexibility can be lost over time. Increasing flexibility isn't hard but it doesn't happen overnight so you have to keep at it until you reach your goal and then stretch on a regular basis to keep yourself at that level. Find out the schedule of your local gym or yoga studio to find out which class suits you and your needs.
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