Flexibility is an aspect of health that many people neglect. However, flexibility is important because tight muscles can create problems throughout your body. To improve your flexibility, Mayo Clinic recommends stretching at least two to three times a week. You can adjust your routine to stretching more days a week after you have gained more flexibility. The benefits of being flexible are legion, so start today.
Good flexibility helps you at every stage of life. Add some form of stretching to your day and watch your ease of movement improve.
Less Back Pain
Tight muscles in the back and lower body can cause back pain. Improving your flexibility can help prevent and treat that pain. Some people have naturally short hamstrings, through genetics or lack of flexibility says the SportsInjuryClinic.net. When your hamstrings are tight, they pull the pelvis down and create more pressure for the lower back.
Plus, there is less stress on the spine when the hip flexors — such as the psoas — and pelvic muscles are flexible. Flexibility can also ease the tension and soreness which can collect in the lower back. When you find it hard to twist your torso from side to side, you know it's time to stretch the lower body muscles.
Increased Range of Motion
Improved posture is just one of the myriad benefits of good flexibility. If your muscles are tight, they can cause a reduced range of motion throughout your body. This can give you trouble with everyday activities such as reaching overhead to take a dish out of the cupboard or even standing up straight.
Becoming more flexible can make these types of activities, as well as exercising, easier. Employ a full-body range of stretching exercises — from top to bottom and from side to side — to increase your range of motion and your ability to move more fluidly.
Stretch to Prevent Injuries
You are more prone to injury of the muscles, as well as tendons and ligaments, if you are not flexible says the American Council on Exercise. The tendons around the muscles stiffen when you do not stretch and keep them flexible. Having tight muscles gives you a reduced range of motion, so it is easier to go past that range of motion and injure yourself with sprains, strains or even ruptures. Likewise, if you improve your flexibility, you increase your range of motion and lower your risk of an injury to the muscles, tendons and ligaments.
Better Circulation and Less Stress
Tension in the muscles affects circulation, which can prevent nutrients and oxygen from properly moving through the body. When the muscles are more flexible, they relax and let the blood flow more freely to the muscles and joints.
One of the easiest and doable almost anywhere tension-relieving exercises is called the Rag Doll. Simply stand with your feet apart and bend over from the waist. Let your head, neck and arms dangle without straining. Breathe deeply, close your eyes and feel your spine stretch and the tension release.
It's Your Choice
There are many ways to stretch yourself into better flexibility. Yoga is just one that comes to mind. But even within yoga, there are many ways to practice. Hatha yoga consists of a number of poses that are held more or less statically. Kundalini yoga is a series of movements coordinated with your inhalations and exhalations. If yoga doesn't appeal to you, you can try foam rolling, which is a form of self-massage. It increases blood flow and hence mobility.