Flexibility Training: Health Benefits and Best Practices
If you have played any sport, you would remember how the coach would make you jog a couple of rounds and stretch for the first 15- 20 minutes. Did you ever ponder as to why she or he was so adamant about it? Those couple minutes of stretching and jogging warm up your body and activate your muscles. It prepares you to respond to the demands of the game. Warm-up exercises and flexibility training are crucial to avoid injury during cardio or weight training.
This article talks about the importance and benefits of flexibility training. Read ahead to know the types of flexibility training you could choose from.
Flexibility Training: An Introduction
Flexibility is the ability to stretch a muscle from one point to another. It enables you to move your body across a varied range of motion. For example, flexibility ensures that a joint or series of joints can move through an unrestricted, pain-free range of motion. Although flexibility varies widely for individuals, minimum ranges are vital for maintaining joint and total body health.
An imbalance in muscle functioning can harm your body’s movement, leading to falls and accidents. Flexibility and balance workouts can help reduce the risk of muscle imbalances. Plus, they are the perfect workout for people starting their journey. Without flexibility, you may get injured if you are not used to working out regularly.
Research suggests that flexibility training can help improve the flexibility of the hip, knee, ankles, shoulders, and spine. Thus, making it less likely for you to hurt your back while fixing the ceiling lamp. In addition, flexibility training does not have to be hardcore. Some simple exercises daily to keep your joints moving are good enough.
Is the Range of Motion and Flexibility Same?
Many individuals confuse range of motion with flexibility. The range of motion of a joint refers to its ability to move in all directions without pain. The ability of tissues, ligaments, tendons, and muscles to extend or move through the range of motion is known as flexibility.
A good range of motion might also affect your workout sessions and other daily activities. It would reduce stiffness and tightness of joints preventing injuries. Regular stretching activities are one approach to increasing flexibility. It is not only advisable to begin the workout with stretching but also to end with it.
Stretching is also vital after long hours of desk work. During the pandemic, stretching was adopted enthusiastically and proved beneficial when working from home became a way of life. If you were working or studying from home, you know the back pain we all developed at the beginning of the pandemic due to not getting up from our desks often.
A well-stretched muscle may attain its entire range of motion more readily. It helps with sports performance, think a less constrained golf swing or tennis serve, and functional capacities like reaching, bending, and stooping during daily duties.
According to a study, a two-month flexibility training program for older women enhanced their spine’s ROMs (Range of Motions). Active people who can engage in the same daily routine could slow down the stiffness of joints that comes with age and improve flexibility.
Can You be Hyper-Flexible?
Remember when Harry potter fractured his arm during the Quidditch match? Anybody who has watched that movie must remember that section of the film especially clearly. Hyper flexibility would look similar, although it is a severe condition that might restrict you from carrying out daily activities.
Hyper-mobility or Hyper flexibility is a connective tissue disorder. It occurs when a joint can move beyond its normal range of motion. It might sound like a superpower, but it isn’t. Excess Range of Motion could result in joint pains, dislocation, swelling, tenderness, or cracking.
Treatment may not be necessary if your joint hypermobility is not causing trouble or pain in any symptomatic way. However, getting it checked by a physician will only make things more straightforward and rule out any underlying issues.
Flexibility Training Benefits
Improved Muscle Condition
Flexibility training like stretching exercises or foam rolling can help you avoid injuries and enhance the health of your muscles. Foam rolling can assist loosen stiff muscles. In the long run, having relaxed muscles that are neither tight nor tensed will increase your flexibility.
Stretching improves blood circulation to your muscles. It nourishes your muscles while also assisting in the removal of waste. It aids in recovering faster, especially after a strenuous workout.
Your workouts won’t be as effective as they could be if you can’t squat down to a near parallel because your muscles are stiff. You may only be able to do half a rep of several exercises in your training. Short-range reps are ineffective in increasing muscle growth and strength.
Your ROM is essential if you want to bulk up, build strength, manage your weight or be healthy. Flexibility training increases the mobility and Range of Motion of your muscle movement. As a result, this makes your workout worth the time and effort.
Good balance is not only crucial in specific activities like ballet. Good balance can assist you in improving your athletic performance and focus. It’s imperative as you age because it can help you avoid injuries and falls. Increasing flexibility and balance can also improve core strength and stability. The chances of you falling after tripping on something is way more likely if your balance isn’t that great. Balance is also imperative when practising yoga, as some asanas are impossible without good balance.
Reduced Injury Risk
Flexibility training increases the range of motion for tendons, ligaments, and joints. At the same time, exercise boosts blood circulation to tissues, muscles and the whole body. As a result, muscle damage is less likely when the supporting tissues around the joints are mobile.
Stretching elongates muscles and enhances blood flow which aids recovery and healing. Even simple activities like walking, reaching for something, and bending over might benefit from stretching. Not just injury prevention but recovery is also something that stretching promotes. According to a study, stretching increases blood flow, delays muscle soreness, and reduces stiffness while an injury is healing.
Muscle tension can cause much pain and anguish. A partially constricted muscle restricts blood flow and could even cause pain. Also, this could happen because of the area’s stress and lactic acid build-up. Regular stretching, on the contrary, promotes blood flow and is both physically and psychologically soothing, which can help relieve tension and stress.
Research says a short session of stretching exercises implemented in the workplace successfully reduced anxiety, bodily pain, and weariness. It also increased vitality, mental wellness, general health, and flexibility.
Less Pain and Bodyache
When you focus on stretching and loosening your muscles, your body will likely feel better overall. For example, you’ll have fewer joint pain and aches if your muscles are less tense and stiff. You may also be less likely to get muscle cramps if you are flexible.
Types of Flexibility Training
Here are four stretching exercises that might help you increase your flexibility. Of course, you could choose the intensity and reps according to your comfort level.
A static stretch requires you to get into a position and stretch or lengthen specific muscles. You might want to hold in that position until you feel a pull but not pain. For example, you could hold on for 30 seconds when you begin this training. It could go up to 60-90 seconds as you gradually become more flexible.
Make sure that you do not overstretch. Take a break of a few seconds between reps and repeat with your primary muscles. Include this in your daily flexibility training. It is easy, simple, and fit for any age group.
Research suggests that a brief static stretching session in healthy, old-aged men could be a helpful strategy for lowering stiffness and restoring postural balance.
Dynamic stretching is the motion that stretches your muscles and joints. It also serves as a warm-up. It improves sprinting, jumping, and strength. Whatever the game, you might have seen them doing specific movements before the match or race.
Sprinters would do ankle rotations, hip circles, or leg pendulums. Swimmers and ball throwers would warm up by doing arm rotations, wrist spins or shoulder rolls. According to studies, dynamic stretching is more beneficial than static stretching before a game or sport.
Active Isolated Stretching
As the name suggests, active isolated stretching involves stretching a muscle, holding it for two seconds, and then giving it a split second to relax. Then, you repeat each rep around ten times, increasing stretch time. Also, this activity might require equipment like a resistance band. Some active isolated stretching includes exercises like quadriceps, straight leg hamstring, bent leg hamstring, etc.
Foam rolling is a kind of myofascial release technique that focuses on increasing flexibility and relieving tension in the connective tissues called fascia. You can use foam rollers on your back or leg muscles. To stretch your calf, for example, sit down and place your calf over the foam roller. Then, move your leg backwards and forward for 30 to 60 seconds.
Tips for Better Flexibility Training
Listen to Your Body
When stretching, pay attention to your body and don’t over-exert yourself. Instead, glide into stretching and know when you’ve hit the limit of your ability. It would help if you avoided rapid stretching, which involves rushing in and out of a stretch. Slow stretching is excellent for preventing injuries and is more effective.
Follow a Flexibility Training Program
You could have a customised program that considers your body and needs to get the most out of flexibility training. Your fitness trainer could assist you in developing the best plan for you. Remember that the more effort and attention you devote to stretching, the more advantages you will reap in the long run.
Stretching is a Must
You may have the misconception that stretching is solely for rehab patients or only for individuals who aren’t in good shape. It’s time to put that misunderstanding to rest. Stretching should be done by everyone irrespective of age. It helps improve your overall blood circulation and health.
. You can utilise towels or other props to assist you in getting deeper in your stretches as part of the workout plan. Maybe play your favourite music, and find a workout partner. If you mix and match things, you’ll likely stick to your flexibility training regimen.
Freshen up Your Mind
Pilates and yoga are great ways to improve flexibility. This could help you calm your body and emotions, making your body more responsive to stretching.
The HealthifyMe Note
Flexibility training is primarily safe and effective in providing benefits. However, like any other training, it requires adequate care and protective measures. So, before you start training, you must stretch your muscles. Furthermore, it is always better to join a training program and perform your training under expert guidance. You must also avoid overdoing any training as that might harm your body and cause pain.
Stretching daily increases flexibility, which is essential for our joints and overall wellness. You could do static stretching or any other type of stretching daily to enhance flexibility. Plus, stretching should be a part of your daily routine if you want your workouts to be as efficient as possible. It isn’t something you practise for a few weeks and then stops. Instead, stretching and flexibility exercises along with cardiovascular and strength training will help you look after your body through the years.
If you have been experiencing constant joint pains, muscle cramps, and random muscle and joints ache, it may be time to see your physician. Take advice, ask and consult your health professional to help choose a combination of diet and movement that aids your wellbeing.