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Flexibility is crucial to Fitness?

Do you stretch? Flexibility training is so beneficial, and yet it is often overlooked as an important element of a training programme. Many studies support the short and long term benefits of different types of stretching. These include static stretching, dynamic stretching and proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation (Explained below). Here are my top 10 reasons to add regular stretching to your training plan.

 

  1. Reducing stress – stress in the body can bring about negative responses such as anxiety, depression or tension. Regular stretching and breathing techniques have been found to improve symptoms of anxiety and depression as well as improving mental tension.
  2. Reducing pain – As we do repetitive movements or sit for long periods of time in the same position at work, we create tension in certain muscles and this create discomfort. Studies have shown the static stretching can actually decrease stiffness and pain levels in the body and may also decrease the frequency and severity of cramps as we encourage blood flow to different muscle groups.
  3. Increasing health – stretches from mind body disciplines have been shown to reduce blood pressure, heart rate and breathing rate and counteract the body’s physiological responses to things like stress.
  4. Increasing range of motion – Various types of stretching as well as other practices such as self-myofascial releasing using a foam roller, can help to enhance unrestricted movement of the major joints of the body, including key areas that are designed to be mobile, such as the hips and shoulders.
  5. Improving function – Various types of stretching as well as other supportive self-care strategies, such as self-myofascial releasing using a foam roller, can help to enhance unrestricted movement of the major joints of the body, including key areas that are designed to be mobile, such as the hips and shoulders.
  6. Reducing risk of injury – Although the evidence is far from definitive, there are some promising findings regarding the role that stretching may play in helping to reduce the risk for injury. Dynamic stretches are often used as part of a warm-up to help increase core body temperature and functionally prepare the body for the movements that are to come. As a result, stretching is often considered an important part of injury prevention, as cold muscles and tendons in the body have a greater likelihood of rupture, strain or sprain.
  7. Enhancing performance- When included as part of a well-rounded fitness routine, regular flexibility training, which includes dynamic stretching, can help enhance agility, power, speed and muscular strength.
  8. Improving blood flow and circulation – Regular flexibility training can help to improve blood flow and circulation, thereby allowing for the enhanced transportation of oxygen and nutrient-rich blood throughout the body.
  9. Minimise wear and tear –When muscles become chronically tight and tense, opposing muscles become weakened, producing unnecessary wear and tear on various joint and structures within the body. Regular stretching helps to ensure the muscles on each side of a joint maintain an equal degree of pull so that the joint is able to move freely and efficiently in all directions, allowing for optimal movement and less stress on the body.
  10. Increasing quality of life Although there are physiological changes that occur as we grow older, regularly stretching and performing range of motion exercises can improve flexibility at any age, helping to increase longevity and enhance overall quality of life.

 

 

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