Gaining fitness is important to living a long and healthy life most people would say.
But the term fitness seems to be thrown around quite loosely without any real consideration for what counts as actually fit.
Often times, we only stop at the physique and decided that the state of one’s physique determines the state of one’s fitness.
And while a great physique is certainly an indicator of someone having a fit lifestyle, it hardly represents the wholesome nature of being truly fit.
A person with a great physique can easily be weak or have poor cardio endurance.
Fitness is a multi-faceted approach, with many domains.
One such domain is flexibility.
This describes how well you can move or stretch your muscles about the joint axis.
Flexibility describes how far your muscles can naturally stretch and is an important aspect of functional mobility and fitness in general.
Types of stretches
There are several ways to boost flexibility through stretching.
Stretching can be a part of a workout or a workout on its own.
The type of stretch you chose to employ determines how and where it is applied in your exercise program.
The different stretches include:
- Ballistic Stretching
- Dynamic Stretching
- Active Stretching
- Passive Stretching
- Isometric Stretching
We won’t go into too much detail on each type of stretch in this article, that’s for another time. Instead, we’re going to introduce you to the fundamental benefits of stretching.
5 Important Reasons To Stretch and Get Flexible
Improved Range Of Motion
Improving your range of motion is both a performance enhancement as well as a safety measure.
When it comes to enhancing performance, and improved ROM allows a longer range of application of force, which means you can generate more power with each movement.
Think of an elastic band, the further you can pull it, the more powerful the recoil.
With regard to safety, a wider range of motion means you are less prone to injuries such as muscle tears or hyperextensions. Since there is a wider degree of yield, there is less opportunity for excess force to cause trauma.
The more you can bend, the less you will break.
Flexibility training helps improve musculoskeletal alignment.
Fixing deviations in your alignment is one of the benefits of having an optimized ROM.
Your posture is both directly and indirectly improved, and better posture means a better functioning body in more aspects that you might know.
Improved Blood Flow
Stretching and lengthening the muscles improves circulation in several ways.
Firstly, any muscular adaptations, including those experienced through lengthening by a good flexibility program, naturally result in an increase in blood supply and circulatory activity.
The improvement in mobility, as well as the benefits stretching, provides the fascia also aids the circulation.
Lastly, by improving musculoskeletal alignment, including the improvement of postural deviations, your circulatory alignment is also optimized.
Better Neuromuscular Health
The stimulation of the motor units and peripheral nervous system you trigger when stretching and training flexibility allows you to feel your body more.
This is one of the sources of the mind-body benefits of yoga.
By connecting more nerve function through stretching and activating more muscles, you become more at harmony with your body, improving balance, proprioception, and coordination.
Stronger Muscles And Bones
Like any form of stress applied to the musculoskeletal system, stretching causes adaptations in strength and mass.
Your muscles and bones will naturally become stronger the more you train them, even though regular stretching.
Your body recognizes this new form of stress as a new normal and triggers anabolic reactions that lead to growth and strength.
Training your flexibility is one of the key aspects of fitness. We all want to lose weight and look good on beach days, heck, we all want to be able to run for at least 25 minutes without losing our breath.
But we should aim for more than good looks and basic endurance. Flexibility is an essential part of health and fitness, and it’s only when it’s too late do most people realize this.