The Benefits of Flexibility

Photo by Anant Sharma on Unsplash

In the health world, experts seem to emphasize the more active aspects of physical fitness – strength, speed, power – or even the more noticeable elements like muscle size and low percentage of body fat. Sometimes we forget the most essential aspect of fitness that makes all others possible: flexibility or mobility.

According to the American College of Sports Medicine, flexibility is the ability of a muscle to move a joint through its complete range of motion. Mobility is the ease with which you can move your joints through their full range of motion. If you can’t move a joint through its full range of motion or it’s difficult for you to do so, you cannot perform any of the movements required to get fit and healthy. Flexibility enables mobility.

One of the most common ailments we see in adults is a loss of flexibility and mobility especially as they age. Have you ever seen a person in their 50s, 60s, 70s, or 80s stiffly shuffling along a path? This doesn’t have to be. We attribute losses of mobility to age far more than we should, when it’s simply because of a loss of flexibility. If we could take that stiffly shuffling person and put them through a flexibility regimen for a few weeks, we would see more walking and less shuffling. The longer we do it the better it gets. I have had clients who complain of chronic body pain, only to have it eased by a regular, consistent stretching regimen.

Flexibility and mobility are essential even in younger athletes and children. Not being able to move your joints through their full range of motion limits the force your muscles can generate, and thus the weight you can lift, how high you can jump, or how fast you can run, for example. So a lack of flexibility can make your muscles virtually useless.

The good news is that you can restore your flexibility and mobility by adopting a daily stretching regimen that only takes a few minutes each session. The only caveat is that flexibility is somewhat influenced by genetics, so some people cannot stretch as far as others. However, your mobility is based on your range of motion, so in the end it can even out.

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