Most of us take flexibility for granted until it lets us down. Everyday life involves a lot more bending and twisting than we realise. Add active sports and suddenly flexibility really matters, both for performance and to avoid injury. What makes us flexible and how can we get bendier?
The human body has an amazing range of motion. Even hinge joints such as ankles and wrists allow rotation, while our shoulders give us the ability to move our arms in almost any directions.
Children and young people are much bendier, and some people also have a genetic advantage. This is why high-level gymnastics is a sport for teenagers, especially young women who are also naturally more flexible during their childbearing years. Men can be less flexible, and a disadvantage of big muscles is that they can reduce ranges of motion.
It isn’t necessary to be a born gymnast to improve flexibility. When it comes to movement, ‘use it or lose it’ is very important. Take any opportunity to move, to bend and to flex.
There are also plenty of targeted stretches, either as a stretch workout or as spare moment desk exercises. It is very important that muscles are warmed up before trying tougher stretches. Pushing cold or sleep-stiffened muscles too hard can cause injury, so take care.
This appears to depend on the type of stretching. Static stretches are those simply involve moving the muscle as far as it will go, and then holding the position. Dynamic stretches are low-intensity movements (such as gentle squats or lunges) – but never ‘bounces’ which can cause injuries.
Current thinking is that dynamic stretches are best before a workout, as they get the blood flowing and so warm up muscles. Static stretches should be done after a workout to reduce the risk of injuring joints, which need warm muscles to support them.
Bend and stretch whenever you can – it pays off!
if anyone is doubting the 'masculinity' of stretching, trying looking up DDP yoga, Surely one of the toughest workouts, and designed by wrestlers.
I gnerally do some dynamic stretching before a workout that incorperates a bit of yoga and pilates. I think at the end of the day especially if you are an older adult like me it is what works for you. For example if I do sprinting then I wont stretch because it will hurt my performance. Anyway any form of stretching requires the body to be warmed up to avoid injury. What I tend to do is some burpees or mountain climbers.
Yoga has totally changed my life and sorted out my back problems
I can't go for more than a day without stretching and I've done this since teenagehood.The more you do it, the more you want to stretch
I confess to scoffing a bit at yoga in the past, being a weights and machines gym goer who looks to 'feel the burn'. But as my twenties disappear into history I am starting to wonder...
Isn't dynamic stretching the thing to do nowadays? I find a few leg swings in the morning quite loosening!
I would suggest the same as Sarah - yoga is the best thing for flexibility. I do the sun salutation every morning and have for years. It takes 7 minutes and I never feel stiff.
YOGA! Best thing for flexibility surely?