Flexibility is important because it allows a full free range of motion without straining or tearing your muscles and joints. Flexibility not only imparts dexterity, but it allows you to be more productive and graceful in your daily activities. Sufficient flexibility in muscles and joints is necessary to prevent injuries during fitness training and the activities if daily living. Make stretching part of your exercise routine and you’ll feel the added benefits.
Optimal flexibility differs with the individual. There are several factors that determine your flexibility and the thing to remember is: if you don’t use it, you will lose it. It takes consistent work, perhaps as little as 10 minutes per day to gain and maintain flexibility. Flexible people stretch, stiff people don’t. In the case of chronic pain or injury, it’s best to consult a healthcare professional to determine what stretches are right for you.
If your normal range of motion is limited without any injuries, you need to stretch.
If you have pain without activity, you need to stretch.
If you’re feeling stressed or tense, you need to stretch.
Flexibility training is also crucial for preventing injuries and maintaining your fitness level, but many people ignore stretching exercises in their hurried attempt to improve their physique through cardio exercises and strength training.
For example, static stretching is not recommended during the warm-up session. However many self-proclaimed fitness experts risk the injuring their clients by suggesting stretching exercises before a proper warm up, this is especially important with high-intensity conditioning.
It has been proven that stretching exercises before intensive training not only makes you prone to injuries but substantially hampers your athletic performance. You should always perform stretching exercises after a good warm up or at the end of your exercise routine or incorporate flexibility with your resistance training in between sets. Bottom line: don’t try to stretch a cold muscle.
Stretching exercises are supposed to create mild tension on the muscle groups and joints. If you are feeling uncomfortable pain; stop, reset and slowly perform the stretch again. If the pain persists, consider an alternate stretch for the same area. You should hold your stretched position for 15-30 seconds for optimum benefit. Overstretching or stretching beyond the comfortable pain can lead to serious injuries like sprained ligaments, torn muscles or joint dislocation.
Some people are tempted to go ballistic when stretching…bouncing motion with vigorous momentum. We warn that this type of stretching can lead to injury or muscle and joint pain in the long run. You should avoid these type of motions and take a gradual approach to stretching. Start and finish your flexibility training in a graceful manner. Yoga is the probably the best way to stretch for a healthy lifestyle. How can you go wrong with a proven system thats been around for centuries?
According to American College of Sports Medicine, you should perform stretching exercises at least three days a week. You can do multiple stretches of any muscle group but warm up exercises are crucial to your flexibility program. You should use slow dynamic movements for warming up your muscle before doing any stretching. Stretching can be an exercise session on its own. The Drs. Wolfson recommend you consult your healthcare professional before beginning any exercise program.
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