How flexible are you? Can you touch your toes to get your socks on? Can you check your blind spot in the car? Can you scratch that itch between your shoulder blades?!
Flexibility is essentially about getting our joints to move unrestricted and pain free. We are all different in our flexibility and there are lots of ways that our ‘normal’ flexibility can be impaired – like injury, inactivity and lack of stretching. The range of motion in our joints is affected by the mobility of the muscles, ligaments and tendons. It’s a case of ‘use it or lose it’ – as this soft tissue becomes shortened with inactivity.
Why is it important to stay flexible?
Inflexibility has several impacts on our body. For one, inflexible muscles tire more quickly and are more likely to suffer injury. Inflexibility also puts added stress on joints and means that cartilage and joint fluid is less healthy.
Staying flexible as we get older is hard but really important and with a few minutes of stretching a day, we can increase mobility and our range of movements in our joints. Aside from increasing or maintaining our range of motion, being more flexible can also help to reduce fatigue and improve our wellbeing generally. We feel really good after a great stretch!
There are lots of types of stretching, some with fancy names like proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation, isometric stretch, ballistic stretch, dynamic stretch and static stretch.
In a static stretch you move a muscle as far as it can go without feeling pain and hold it for 20-40 seconds.
In a dynamic stretch you use a range of active movements, especially in a warmup, that mimic the activity of the exercise you’re going to do.
A ballistic stretch uses the momentum of the moving limb to push beyond the normal range of motion, bouncing into and out of a stretched position.
Isometric stretching is static and uses the resistance of muscle groups by tensing the stretched muscle.
Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation isn’t as scary as it sounds! PNF is a form of flexibility training that stretches and contracts the targeted muscles. It was designed for rehabilitation so it’s effective and proven.
I think flexibility is so important that I created a mini course of 5 x 10-15 minute workouts: Improve your Flexibility. It’s for people who want to improve their flexibility, their movement and range of motion, and it uses many of the different types of stretch to do different jobs for our bodies. There are tips every day on how to release tight muscles and feel amazing!
50% off the Improve your Flexibility bundle until the end of July - send directly to you via email
Check out www.gemmapearcefitness.co.uk or my Facebook page to find out more.