"Flexibility" is derived from the word "flex," which means to bend, like at the elbow or contract, like a muscle (get shorter in length). It is the joints ability to move through a full range of motion. Stretching is one o the best ways to improve your flexibility. There are times when we overwork our muscles during exercise, some physical activity or bad posture.
There are certain activities which the body needs to achieve a vast range of movement, which is made easier by flexibility training and exercises. Joints and the surrounding muscles, seldom used, can enjoy only a limited range of motion or sometimes they become worse with time. With proper and regular training and exercise, the joints become more flexible and the surrounding muscles become strong to support every motion made by the joints. It is crucial that some stretching exercise is done to keep your body flexible while avoiding injury and pain as a result. Flexibility training is one of the key ingredients of a balanced fitness program and should be a part of your exercise routine. Without flexibility training, you are missing an important part of overall health. Flexibility training provides many important benefits that cannot be achieved by any other exercise or activity.
• Improves Natural Movement and Physical Performance
Joint flexibility allows you to move through a greater range of motion and requires less energy to do so, while at the same time reducing your risk of injury. There are certain parts of your bodies that get very little attention resulting in limited movement. Improved flexibility means improved physical performance and aids in your ability to move naturally while at the same time improving your posture. You are better able to breathe more deeply and naturally, with improved circulation and the alleviation of muscle tension as a result of stress.
• Reduces Risk of Lower Back Pain
If you are tense your body requires more energy to perform various activities. Stretching reduces the risk of lower back pain by relaxing the muscles. With increased flexibility in the hamstrings, hip flexors, quadriceps and other muscles attached to the pelvis the stress on the lower back is reduced. When you stretch, your muscles relax and cause healthy nutrition to go directly to your muscles, reducing the accumulation of toxins in the body and reduces the possibility of muscle tightening.
• Improved Muscle Coordination
Studies show that nerve-impulse velocity (the time it takes an impulse to travel to the brain and back) is improved with stretching. This helps opposing muscle groups work in a more synergistic, coordinated fashion.
• Reduced Muscle Soreness and Improved Posture
Sudden physical activity causes strains and soreness of the muscle. Recent studies show that slow, static stretching helps reduce muscle soreness after exercise. It also improves muscular balance, range of motion and posture. We have become so accustomed to slouching over and of course the continuous pull of gravity on our bodies as we age. Stretching realigns the soft tissue structures and as a result it reduces the effort it takes to achieve and maintain good posture throughout the course of the day.
• Increased Blood and Nutrients to Tissues: Another great benefit is that stretching increases blood supply and nutrients to joint structures. Stretching increases tissue temperature, which in turn increases circulation and helps the nutrients to reach the tissues effectively. This allows greater elasticity of surrounding tissues and increases performance. Stretching also increases joint synovial fluid, which is a lubricating fluid that promotes the transport of more nutrients to the joints' articular cartilage. This allows a greater range of motion and reduces joint degeneration .Improved blood circulation also nourishes the muscle, making way for more oxygen in the muscles which act as fuel when the body goes into physical exertion.
• Enhanced Enjoyment of Physical Activities
Any fitness program you decide to engage in should be fun. If it is not then you find that it becomes difficult to maintain it. Flexibility training relaxes your mind and body, heightening your sense of well-being and personal gratification.• Increases production of synovial fluid: - Synovial fluid is found in the joints which acts as a lubricant and reduces the rubbing of moving joints. Synovial fluid also helps in the transportation of nutrients in the tissues of the joints. One of the benefits of flexibility training is that it helps in the increased production of this fluid in the joints.
Note: Avoid stretching if have an injury. Stretching may worsen the injury. Consult with a physiotherapist for advice on stretching and flexibility exercises. If you're a beginner or would like to try new stretches that you are unfamiliar with, you may have direct or/and indirect injuries.