Improved flexibility produces a wide range of physical benefits and can have a positive effect on your overall well-being. Here are a few reasons why improving flexibility will help you.
1. Fewer injuries
Once you develop flexibility and mobility in your body you’ll be able to move your joints and muscles through a greater range of motion. This will help rid your body of muscle imbalances, which will reduce your chance of injury during training. Correcting a muscular imbalance is achieved through a combination of strengthening under active muscles and stretching the overused ones.
2. Less pain
You will feel better overall once you work on reducing muscle imbalance. When your muscles are recovered and looked after you’ll have less aches and pains to contend with. Many people also experience less muscle cramps but this is largely through being able to operate through greater ranges of motion as a result of improved mobility and flexibility.
3. Improved balance and posture
When you develop flexibility your posture will improve. Training your body allows muscles to work together to provide stability in joints as opposed to working against each other, resulting in pain and weakness. With an increased range of motion you may find it easier to sit or stand in certain ways. Pilates can help with this.
4. A positive state of mind
Regularly performing stretches and opening up the chain of muscles in your body can bring about feelings of relaxation. You’ll find it easier to unwind once your body feels better, this is because the muscle surface area will be enlarged from stretching and circulation will be improved as a result. Better circulation means the good stuff goes in, bad stuff comes out, hormones get to where they need to be, quicker and more efficiently.
5. Greater strength
With great flexibility comes great strength. Flexible people will have fewer imbalances than people who don’t have good flexibility. Their movements are more effective and efficient because their muscles work together to provide movements. In people who have low ranges of movement it’s pretty much the opposite where muscles fight each other throughout the movement, making it inefficient and risky.
6. Improved physical performance
Once you increase your flexibility to allow greater movement in your body you’ll find that you can perform better physically. This is due to your body moving more efficiently and at lower energy cost. This is because there is less tension through joints allowing optimal movement and range of motion in joints. Optimal movement plus improvement in fitness equals maximal (or improving) efficiency.
Flexibility is one of ten components of training from the 5 health and 5 skill based components but very few people actually take steps to improve their range of motion through joints. A basic 30 minute upper and lower body stretch program once to twice per week is all it took to open up my hips, and reduce tension in key areas (ankles, knees, hips, lower back, shoulders). This made it possible to log up to 20 hours of training on top of work for my chosen event, recover from long sessions and remain injury free. Many people from the ‘athlete’ and ‘non athlete’ category use Pilates (available at Body Planners) to help with this element of training.