Pete’s Blog - #3 “The Importance of Flexibility Training” part 1
Welcome to issue number 3 of Pete’s Blog. This is the first of a 2 part series on the importance of including flexibility training in your exercise program.
While writing this latest issue of my blog, I received an email from one of our long-standing clients which contained a very thought provoking article on flexibility. The title of this article was – “Is stretching before and after exercise necessary?”
The article examined whether stretching before exercise helps to prevent injury and also, if stretching after exercise helps to prevent muscle soreness. The answer to both of these questions was there is no conclusive evidence that supports either of these 2 reasons for stretching.
While this article had a very narrow focus, it none the less asks some very interesting questions as to the benefits of flexibility development and why we should include this as part of our weekly exercise program. So what exactly is flexibility, why is good flexibility important for us and how do we improve the ability of our joints to move freely?
Flexibility is defined as the range of motion around each of your joints. This is influenced by the exercises in your workout, as well as nutrition, hydration and lifestyle choices. Good flexibility assists you in maintaining good posture, especially if you spend most of your working day sitting in front of a computer. Furthermore, the better your flexibility the greater the range of motion you can achieve with exercises that require you to rotate your torso, as well as squats, lunges in different planes and variants of the deadlift.
As we age, flexibility is one of the first components of fitness to noticeably deteriorate. This is due to many reasons, especially too much time spent sitting each day! (Another good reason why you should find different ways to move on a daily basis.)
The main reason is because we stop doing any stretching exercises unless you practice Yoga, Pilates or make time to incorporate some flexibility exercises into your weekly exercise regime. Flexibility is the hardest of all the components of fitness to improve and is generally the easiest to lose.
Benefits of Flexibility Training
1. Prevent everyday injury, e.g. bending down to pick something up, back aches due to transitioning to standing from sitting, shoulder niggles that come from performing uncommon tasks such as pruning a hedge with a pair of hedge clippers, painting a room, or spending part of a weekend renovating the garden.
2. Improves your posture.
3. Lengthens your muscles for a longer, leaner look.
4. Makes playing with your children a lot easier, especially if you get asked to play in a parent/child football, basketball, netball or cricket game.
5. Allows you to feel more confident and content from the inside out.
6. Helps to spread positive energy around your body, which invigorates your spirit.
7. Makes any cardio activity feel a lot easier.
8. Helps you to travel long distances more comfortably.
9. Enhances sports performance.
10. Need I say…………get through the Kama Sutra??!!
In Part two of this discussion on flexibility, I will explore how to go about improving your flexibility, the difference between flexibility and mobility and why some experts consider Flexibility to be the third pillar of fitness, next to strength training and cardiovascular conditioning.