What is flexibility?
- flexibility refers to the lengthening of a muscle
- to be flexible means all soft tissue has the ability to extend or lengthen without restriction
- this extensibility or lengthening is crucial for full range of motion around a joint
Why is flexibility important? There are several key reasons to incorporate flexibility training.
- To prevent injury
- flexibility will prevent injuries by correcting muscle imbalances
- muscle imbalances refer to relationships between a tight/overused muscle and a weak/underused muscle
- For example: Think about the neck muscles, aka the trapezius, aka the traps. The upper traps tend to become overused and tight in relationship to the lower traps. This muscle imbalance often leads to movement limitations or bad form during any pushing or pressing type exercise such as a push up. Too many push ups with bad form can lead to shoulder injuries. For this reason it is essential to correct muscle imbalances and restore proper flexibility to perform exercises correctly.
- To increase joint range of motion (aka mobility)
- an increase of joint range of motion means you will have the ability to perform movements without limitations.
- For example: A squat requires optimal joint range of motion in the hips and spine. Tight hips and back will limit your ability to perform the squat properly with optimal force or strength. Without optimal joint range of motion it is harder to perform exercise to your fullest potential.
- To reduce stress
- flexibility is a great tool to reduce stress and tension
- incorpating yoga into your fitness routine will undoubtably help manage stress and increase recovery for the mind and body.
I recommend using self-myofascial release tools such as a lacrosse ball or foam roller to release muscle tension or tightness and restore proper flexibility around joints. Self-myofascial release is much more effective in comparison to basic static stretching. It will help release the tight “knots” around a joint and effectively lengthen the muscles to restore proper flexibility.
Here are some examples of flexibility/mobility exercises I use to help mobilize my spine and prevent stiffness in my back.