The Benefits of Flexibility Training & Stretching
Flexibility training & stretching should be a key part of our weekly exercise routine and for good reason too.
Stretching is always recommended before intense exercise in order to prevent strains and cramps, but flexibility training in itself has multiple benefits that can lead to improved physical health. Even just a few minutes spent stretching a day can be advantageous to health and improve athletic performance.
- Helps to achieve full range of motion
Stretching helps a muscle more easily achieve its full range of motion, which in turn helps an athlete reach peak performance. Not only does this have benefits where flexibility is obviously required, such as gymnastics, dance or martial arts, but it can also be helpful in sports like basketball and football where agility is required.
- Improves posture and balance
Stretching can help to improve your posture, which can reduce aches and pains in various points of the body. Stretching can be particularly good at reducing lower back pain. Stretching can also help to improve balance, which can reduce the likelihood of falls.
- Delays/preventing muscles stiffening with age
As people get older, their muscles tend to stiffen. Regular stretching can help to reduce or prevent this from occurring, which means that people can retain their mobility into later life.
- Decreases the chance of injury
Muscles that are more flexible are less prone to strains or tears. This has the obvious benefit of preventing pain for the athlete or the individual exercising, and means that there is less likely to be need for injury recovery time which interrupts training.
- Improves circulation
Stretching improves circulation by increasing blood flow to the muscles, which provides them with more oxygen. This also reduces recovery time as the blood can more quickly remove waste products that build up in active muscles.
- Reduces the effects of stress
The calming effect of stretching has the ability to reduce the effects of stress, especially in its more meditative forms such as yoga. Physically, stretching causes the muscles to relax, reducing tension in your body.
Flexibility training and stretching works best when done little and often. Even just five or ten minutes every day can lead to significant improvements. However, it is important to remember that, as with any exercise, flexibility builds up over time. If a stretch is painful, then it is not beneficial and could lead to injury. When undertaking flexibility training, always be aware of your body’s limits. With consistent training and patience, flexibility can be increased quickly.