Can you touch your toes?
If yes, can you place your forehead on your knees
with fully extended legs?
If your answers to these questions are YES then flexibility is not an aspect of your fitness you need to worry about. However, if you exercise it’s always good to stretch afterwards to maintain that flexibility!
Flexibility is the range of motion around a joint and tends to be the most under-rated aspect of physical fitness. Most individuals become more aware of it when its absence affects their performance in a particular sport or activity or when they get older and very common day to day activities are hampered by lack of flexibility.
Good flexibility is highly beneficial because:
- It improves the quality of life. Day to day activities such as reaching for the top shelf or simply putting your socks on, are made easier when your muscles are able to reach their full range of motion. If touching your toes is a problem then very likely your hamstrings (muscles at the back of your leg) and/or muscles on your lower back are tight.
- It improves sports performance by increasing the range of motion at the relevant joint allowing the muscle to exert more force over an extended period of time.
- It improves posture. A great percentage of the population suffer from chronic back pain due to bad posture (see Posture Correction). The most common functional problems encountered are kyphosis –excessive curvature of the thoracic spine (hunchback) mainly caused by tight chest muscles and weak back muscles-, lordosis –excessive curvature of the lumbar spine (pelvic tilt) mainly aggravated by tight muscles around the pelvis area- and scoliosis (a deviation of the spine) causing a noticeable difference between sides in functional movements and even performance (weak side/strong side). These conditions can be alleviated and sometimes corrected through a good stretching program.
- Stress management. The process of stretching can have a positive impact in the physical and mental relaxation.
It is my style to include different approaches of stretching at the end of each session concentrating on those areas that need it most!