Why flexibility is important and how to increase your flexibility
Supple joints not only help prevent injury, they also improve things like your golf swing and performance on the tennis court, and preserve your ability to perform simple activities of basic living.
Whether you’re bending down to tie your shoes, or reaching overhead to get something out of a cabinet, your muscles — and in turn, your joints — must stay pliable to maintain full range of motion. If you don’t have that flexibility, other muscles kick in to compensate for the deficits.
Over time, these behaviors that are making up for a lack of flexibility can lead to injury. For example, if your hip flexors are tight, you might begin using your lower back or hamstrings more than you should be to achieve your movement goals. Before long, you’ll find you have a sore lower back or pulled hamstrings.
So, making sure all of your muscles have the flexibility to do what they need to is key.
There are four types of stretching – active stretching, passive stretching, dynamic stretching, and PNF stretching.
This technique adopts and holds a pose while exclusively utilizing the muscles within the group that’s being targeted. For instance, flexing the ankle back and forth involves the use of the calf muscles as they hold the toes in a pointed position and as the toes are being raised toward the shin. The muscles are performing opposing functions as one is being lengthened, and the other one is being contracted.
Holding a position or a pose with gravity. For example, hamstring stretches involve bending at your waist to touch your toes, letting go and holding that pose for over 30 seconds before you do a deeper stretch.
These are lively stretches that rely on momentum to flow through repeated movements. An example is doing a hamstring stretch where your leg is swung upward in a kick through its range of motion. With each pass, a gradual progression in height is being reached.
Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation (PNF) initially, it came about as a form of rehabilitation because of its effectiveness in increasing range of motive. It is referred to as a type of active assisted stretching.
The muscle is taken to the point of tension, held for 30 seconds, then an isometric contraction is held for 30 seconds, this new length is held for a minute. This should be repeated 3 times for the same stretch.
How often should I stretch?
You should divide your stretching sessions into challenging - or PNF stretching and Restorative - passive stretches during the week. Of course the more is better and regularity is key!
Come join the team at One Pilates who can help you create a targeted varied whole body Stretch Routine for you!