Bend over and touch your toes. Touching your toes, like all other bending and holding movements, requires our muscles to stretch.

Flexibility is the amount of stretch a given muscle allows. Every muscle in our body is made up of long chains of muscle fibers, or cells, gathered together in larger and larger groups and ultimately wrapped in connective tissue called fascia. Our muscles, by design, contract (allowing you to do things like move or carry an object or push open a door) and also stretch. And the opposite stretch is just as important as the contraction. Plus, the simple pleasure of a good stretch may be just the boost you need.

Why flexibility is an important part of exercise

If a muscle does not have the ability to relax and stretch enough, it changes the biomechanics of the body, which can lead to tension or stress on other parts of the body. Ultimately, a muscle that cannot relax and stretch enough can limit our mobility.

Mobility is the ability of joints (where two or more bones meet) to move through their full range of motion without being limited by other tissues such as ligaments, tendons or muscles. When mobility is limited because muscles are too tight, the ability to safely perform daily tasks, as well as exercises ranging from running to weight training, decreases.

Think of a dancer trying to kick overhead without warming up first, or a pitcher trying to throw a fastball as soon as he comes out of the locker room. In both cases, it’s practically the door open to injury. If flexibility becomes very limited, even everyday tasks (such as bending to pick up a dropped object or lifting a suitcase) can also increase the risk of muscle strains and tears. This is especially true in older people, as flexibility naturally decreases during the aging process.

Flexibility helps you perform activities of daily living and maintain yourself as you age, such as putting on socks and shoes, taking care of your foot health, and being able to wash yourself. Also, it is important to remember that all parts of the body are interconnected. Thus, when a muscle is too tight, it pulls on the neighboring bones and muscles. And if one joint can’t move the way it should, the other joints have to take over so you can keep moving. Over time, this can lead to overuse injuries, such as tendonitis.

How to Improve Flexibility: The Different Types of Stretching

In order for your muscles to retain their ability to relax and stretch when you want them (regardless of your age), they must do so regularly. This means that you must voluntarily do movements that stretch your muscles. If you want to improve your flexibility, stretch three to five days a week for five minutes.

Here are the types of stretches you can do to maintain or improve your flexibility.

Static stretches

One of the most common types of stretching is static stretching, which involves moving through a joint’s range of motion and holding that position for 15, 30, 60 seconds or longer.

For example, to stretch your hamstrings, you can touch your toes, either standing or sitting on the floor with your legs straight. To stretch the chest muscles, you can hold both sides of a door frame and then take a step forward. To stretch your glutes, you can hug your knee to your chest. In general, static stretching has been shown to increase hamstring muscle flexibility in healthy young adults.

But it is important to note that static stretching is not recommended before exercise (when the muscles are not warmed up). Consistent research shows that as a general rule, people shouldn’t perform static stretches, especially if held for longer than 60 seconds, before their workouts. Static stretching can actually make muscles too loose without allowing them to properly stabilize the joints in your body. Additionally, when static stretches, held longer than 60 seconds, are performed before exercise, warming up has been found to decrease strength and performance, according to research published in 2019. static after exercise to help cool down or throughout the day to break up long periods of stretching and release tight muscles.

Dynamic stretches

Dynamic stretches are exercises that gently move the joints through their full range of motion, thereby increasing blood flow to the muscles and connective tissues of the body. That’s why they are ideal before workouts. Research published in 2018 suggested that dynamic stretching before a workout can improve performance in terms of strength, power, sprinting and jumping.right up arrow Examples include leg swings, walking lunges , hip circles and arm circles.

Myofascial release (“foam rolling”)

Myofascial release (like foam rolling or massage) involves applying pressure to the connective tissues of muscles to help them relax. To improve flexibility, foam rolling can be very beneficial when done immediately before dynamic stretching.

For example, in a study published in 2015, athletes’ flexibility did not improve when they rolled with foam rollers. Other research, including a study published in 2015, shows that foam rolling after a workout can help reduce subsequent soreness and speed muscle recovery. It should be noted that both of these examples are small studies.
However, a meta-analysis published in 2019 concluded that foam rolling has minor effects on performance and recovery in most cases and may indeed be more helpful for more people as part of a pre routine. -exercise

* criptom strives to transmit health knowledge in a language accessible to all. In NO CASE, the information given can not replace the opinion of a health professional.