‘FLEXIBILITY: KEY TO BETTER HEALTH’
Ever notice that your body literally takes on the language of stress? We talk about attitudes being inflexible, rigid or hard. We use terms like we’re hard pressed, or she’s straight laced, or he’s not going to bend or move. Add this mental body of thoughts to our day to day living, chronic repetitive over use, unresolved injury, chronic illness or medication use and you have the making of a physical body that is stiff, sore, tired, and easily injured. Continued stress, mental or physical, positive or negative creates tension in the body. Muscles become tighter and tighter and eventually things begin to go wrong.
Yogis have known for centuries that the key to good health is flexibility and stretching. The soft flowing exercises known as hatha yoga and tai chi were designed to free the body as well as the mind of stress and stiffness. Chiropractors as well believe that the key to youth and good health is a flexible spine. Besides adjustments they may suggest gentle stretching exercises to improve flexibility. Trained massage therapists work with the soft tissue, stretching to gain length and flexibility in the muscles, tendons and ligaments. Different methods, yet they all work to bring about better flexibility.
If you have embarked upon a new exercise program as of late, good for you but, if you are not using some stretching techniques to warm up you may be doing more damage than you know. Flexibility is the key to all movement; simply defined as mobilization, freedom to move, or technically, the range of motion available in a joint or group of joints. Warming up increases the delivery of nutrients to the muscles creating a more oxygen rich environment. The more oxygen available, the more vital and healthy we become. You wouldn’t run a race horse around the track full steam without first walking or allowing his muscles to warm up, so why would you?
While flexibility is the key to all movement, balanced physical fitness requires a blending of three basic components- flexibility, aerobic conditioning and strength training. Equally important in achieving a flexible body is a balance of nutrition, stress management at work and rest or play.
The Benefits of Stretching & Flexibility Include:
1. Increases range of motion for ease in daily living
2. Relieves muscle-joint soreness by increasing circulation
3. Promotes relaxation and reduces physical/emotional stress
4. Increases muscle/tendon elasticity reducing injury or re-injury
5. Improves muscle and tendon contractility, thus increasing strength potential and endurance
Your physical therapist, massage therapist, chiropractor, or exercise trainer can help develop a program of stretching for you that will help increase your flexibility. It may take continued persistent stretching to increase your flexibility, but the rewards are many including an increased quality of living. Till next time, Rebecca.