How Does Flexibility Affect Your Health?
The Impact of Flexibility Training on Your Health
Most people associate flexibility with dancing, performance art, sports, or yoga. It’s considered more of a skill than a health necessity. In this respect, people would be mistaken.
Flexibility (also limberness) is more than the ability to touch your toes and bend or contort your body in ways that most people cannot achieve. It is a component of physical fitness and an indication of a body’s range of movement. The more flexible you are, the more you can do.
While some people are born naturally limber, many have to work harder to condition their musculoskeletal systems to become more flexible. If you consider yourself as one of the latter, you’ll have much to gain if you work on improving your flexibility.
Why is Flexibility Important?
Exercises that make your body more limber also improve your posture, mobility, and muscle coordination. They strengthen your core, back, and neck muscles, too.
This is because stretching is a major part of flexibility training. Stretching exercises target muscle groups, flexing and stretching them to increase their elasticity and improve their form. These exercises also condition the joints, ligaments, and tendons to be stronger and allow a wider range of motion and better control of the bones and muscles.
The musculoskeletal improvements that develop when you do flexibility exercises on the regular can give you the following health benefits:
When you sit on a desk for hours at a time and working on your laptop, your torso may gradually give in to gravity and become increasingly curved. Often, you don’t even notice how much you’ve slumped forward towards your computer screen until you get a crick in your neck or your back starts feeling sore.
Your muscles shorten when you are in a slumped, hunch-backed position for extended periods. It causes the tight, sore sensation in the waist and pelvic area when you rise after sitting with a curved back for hours. Doing short, flexibility exercises in-between can help alleviate the pain and correct your posture the next time you sit back down.
Additionally, sports trainers say that flexibility training can improve the body’s overall shape. It’s what contributes to many athletes’ lean and toned figures.
Reduced Risk of Certain Ailments and Diseases
It may not register immediately, but bad posture can lead to a host of health problems. Harvard Medical School cites the following as key examples of posture-related problems:
- Poor quality of sleep
- Curved spine
Posture can also impact your mood and jaw alignment, according to Harvard.
Low Risk of Injuries
A stronger and more flexible body is more capable of withstanding physical stress. This is one of the reasons why contact sports athletes incorporate stretching into their daily exercises and pre-game training programs.
Stretching expands the muscle fibers and makes them more pliable, stronger, and responsive to fight-and-flight scenarios. It also strengthens the connective tissue that supports the muscles and internal organs. Hence, people who are flexible because of regular training have a low risk of obtaining physical injuries.
Less incidence of back pain
Chronic lower back pain is often caused by a tightness of the muscles (poor posture being one of its leading causes). Stretching is one of the most recommended therapies that address chronic pain. It can both prevent and heal an existing injury. Recall, too, that the circumstances leading to a person’s heightened flexibility — habitual exercise and training of targeted muscle groups — lower the risk for injuries that may cause chronic pain.
The work that you put into increasing your flexibility can have a positive impact on your health. The outcomes discussed above are worth the effort. Work with an experienced fitness trainer so that you’re sure you’re doing the correct flexibility exercises.