Many people don’t understand flexibility and how important it is to an overall fitness plan. The three parts of fitness are flexibility, aerobic training, and strength training. All are important when developing a well-rounded fitness program.
Flexibility is how much movement you have in your joints. Some joints may be more flexible than others. Regular activity and different types of stretching can improve your flexibility. You can work on less flexible joints to make them more flexible.
Each joint (or set of joints) is made up of:
Each of your joints has a different level of flexibility. For example, you might be able to reach your arm to scratch your low back, which shows you have good shoulder flexibility. Or, if you can’t reach your toes, you may have poor flexibility in the hips and low back.
Your overall flexibility is affected by:
Stretching is really flexibility training. Using stretches correctly can increase your range of motion and flexibility of a joint.
There are two types of stretching:
Does stretching help you warm up before an activity?
No. You need to be warmed up before you stretch. The muscles and connective tissue around joints need to be warm
before stretching. Warm up your muscles by doing a 5 to 10 minute aerobic session. This will increase your heart rate, warm up your body, and it will make you start to sweat.
Does stretching before being active prevent injuries?
It isn’t known. Injuries from being active depend on the type of activity, your fitness level, or old injuries.
Does stretching before or after being active prevent muscle soreness?
It isn’t known. Whether you stretch before or after a vigorous exercise session, you might still have sore muscles right after or later on, which is called delayed onset muscle soreness (DOM).
What are the benefits of stretching and improved flexibility?
To improve your flexibility, add more stretching into your exercise routines. Stretching more will:
Now that you know more about flexibility and the benefits of stretching, take time to add more stretching into activities and make better flexibility one of your goals. If you’re not sure what kinds of exercises or stretching to do, talk to a certified exercise professional.
Current as of: October 24, 2018
Author: Chronic Disease Prevention, Alberta Health Services
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