‘Flexibility’ refers to the mobility or range of motion in a join. The structure of a joint and the soft tissue that surrounds it determines the range of motion. Flexibility is an essential component of any fitness programme, yet it is often forgotten and ignored. Any people in a fitness programme work their cardiovascular systems and muscles but forget about flexibility.
What is the benefit of flexibility training?
There are a number of benefits that a stretching programme provides, including the following:
- Stress reduction: Stretched muscles are muscles which are relaxed. Muscles which are full of tension need to work harder, which requires more energy. A stretching routine every day can help to relax the muscle tissue, which can assist muscles with staying healthier.
- Increased blood supply as well as fluids to the joint structure: Stretching can boost the circulation of synovial fluid in the joint. This fluid helps more nutrients to be transported to the joint structure, which helps to increase the range of motion of a joint.
- Improved balance and posture: Stretching muscle tissue and joint structures can help to enhance balance as well as posture. Bad postural patterns – such as sitting or standing incorrectly – can cause problems which a stretching programme can address.
- Increased coordination: Studies have indicated that the time it takes for nerve impulses to travel from the brain to the body and back again can be reduced with flexibility training. This process can help muscle groups to work together more efficiently, which helps to increase overall coordination.
What guidelines should be followed with flexibility training?
A person should stretch both before and after an exercise activity:
- A before-exercise stretch is aimed at improving the flexibility of the joints, which will be used during the exercise.
- An after-exercise stretch should be used for the purpose of relaxing the contracted muscle so helping the flow of fluids to the joint structures in addition to removing waste products from the muscles.
Stretching post exercise, when the body core temperature is at its highest, is the best time to stretch for overall flexibility. A person would hold each stretch for longer periods in order to enhance maximum gains in range of motion.
Intensity and duration are the most essential factors in stretching. A low-intensity, the high-duration stretch is the best stretch in order to assist with an increasing range of motion.
5 Tips for proper stretching technique
The following are five tips to assist you with developing a proper stretching routine:
- Warm up your muscles prior to stretching by walking or doing gentle movements.
- Don’t bounce to intensify the stretch but instead slowly increase your stretch.
- Hold each position for about 20 – 30 seconds at a stable resistance.
- Make sure to breathe slowly in addition to rhythmically while stretching.
- Follow directions for proper body positioning as this is important for an active stretch.
Gym-goers who include flexibility training as part of a well-balanced fitness program enjoy a lot of benefits. Stretching exercises can help to decrease stress and improve the way your body moves and feels throughout the day. Improved flexibility can even lead to better posture. All of these benefits help you to move more often throughout the day and burn more calories. So, if you’re trying to lose weight, it’s smart to include flexibility exercises in your weight loss program.
If you are confused about your fitness programme it is a good idea to consult a trained exercise professional to show you the ropes.