What is the definition of flexibility?
Flexibility refers to joints’ or series of joints’ ability to move freely and painlessly. Although flexibility varies significantly between individuals, specific ranges are essential to sustain joint and total body health.
Injuries, inactivity and lack of stretching all contribute to joint stiffness. The state of surrounding tissues influences joint mobility.
Muscles, ligaments, tendons, joint capsules, and skin are all examples of soft tissues. A lack of stretching, particularly when mixed with exertion, can gradually shorten soft tissues due to tiredness.
Inadequate flexibility harms the body in three important ways:
- Joints require a full range of motion to maintain the integrity of cartilage and other joint structures by increasing blood supply and nutrients to joint structures and by increasing the amount of synovial joint fluid. This effect is most apparent in joints that bear weight, such as the hips and knees.
- Inflexible muscles fatigue more quickly, requiring opposing muscle groups to perform harder. Muscle tiredness can result in muscle injuries and the muscles’ incapacity to protect joints from more severe damage. The hamstrings, for example, assist in stabilizing the knee and preventing ACL rupture.
- Reduced flexibility may also result in aberrant stress on structures and tissues that are not directly affected by the inflexibility. For instance, tendinitis in the knee might be associated with calf tightness.
Added benefits of a consistent stretching program include the following:
- Increased neuromuscular coordination
- Return of muscle to the natural resting state
- Modifying blood pooling, recirculation
Range of motion measurement
A joint’s range of motion is frequently determined using a goniometer or an inclinometer. These instruments enable the measurement of range of motion in degrees and comparison to recognized typical values. Functional testing can also be used to assess flexibility. These tests allow for quantifying joint range of motion in the context of common movement patterns. Range of motion testing can be used to identify and treat regions of inflexibility.
Hamstrings, lower back, iliotibial band (IT band), and hip are all common regions that show a lack of mobility.
To reap the benefits of stretching, you must incorporate it into your normal training routine.
Gaining flexibility requires time and effort. Improving flexibility is not a task for the impatient. It may take several weeks of daily stretching to see results. Stretch following each workout session with stretches that target your body’s major joints. Stretching over an extended period (20+ minutes) multiple times per week, rather than simply after each training session, can also be quite helpful. After completing these, progress to stretches that target specific areas of inflexibility. An infinite amount of stretches may be performed to address all of the body’s joints. However, all stretches should adhere to the following guidelines:
To begin, hold the stretch position for 30 seconds, although 1-2 minutes is optimal. Stretching should be done in a static place. Static stretching entails progressively stretching a muscle over its complete range of motion until resistance or slight discomfort is felt. Release the strain gradually.
Frequency of Repetition: Every day
A stretching program should target all of the body’s major muscle groups and those muscle groups that are explicitly used in a sport or activity. Other body regions should be kept as still as possible save for the muscle group being stretched. When stretching, maintain a normal breathing pattern. Stretching will not prevent delayed-onset muscle soreness – the type that typically appears the day following an unfamiliar activity. When to undertake a stretching routine is a point of contention. Stretching after an exercise session is widely accepted to be quite beneficial. Stretching before a workout session, on the other hand, is generally not recommended unless a 5-minute cardio warmup precedes it. Warmup before stretching boosts blood flow and warmth to the muscles, ligaments, and tendons, enhancing suppleness and optimal function. Stretching muscles that are cold may result in a strain or pull. Begin each stretch slowly and softly – stretch to the point of discomfort and then a little beyond. It would help if you got a sense of pulling or tightness but not of pain. Maintain a calm demeanor and avoid bouncing.
Flexibility, Health, and Performance
While stretching is frequently considered a means to release muscles, it is also beneficial for increasing the mobility of the soft tissues that limit flexibility. Stretching will not alleviate delayed-onset muscle soreness, which typically occurs the day following unusually vigorous exercise.
The advantages of a regular stretching program include:
- Sports Performance enhancements
- Reduced likelihood of injuries
- Increased blood flow and food availability to joint structures
- Increased synovial joint fluid volume
- Increased neuromuscular coordination
- Muscle tightness is reduced
- Joint mobility is enhanced.