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Chiropractic and the Benefits of Flexibility

By Martha Michael

Chiropractic and the Benefits of Flexibility

Whether you’re a roofer, a ranger, or a dancer, you need an ample range of motion in many parts of your body for nearly every line of work and play. Being flexible can mean being easy to get along with, but the importance of physical flexibility and range of motion is important too.

You may not need to be as limber as you were in your high school cheerleading days, but you want to be able to twist for that golf swing or at least bend over safely to tie your shoes.

What Is Flexibility?

When your body is operating with maximum flexibility, you have unrestricted movement in your limbs and trunk. The extent of your body’s flexibility is affected by the soft tissues located at your joints, according to an article by the University of California, Davis Health website.

The soft tissues that surround the joints include:

  • Muscles
  • Ligaments
  • Tendons
  • Joint capsules
  • Skin

Healthy levels of flexibility are affected by how active you are, whether or not you’ve suffered from injuries, and how much you stretch on a regular basis. When your range of motion is restricted, you may not be aware of the negative effects of living with limited flexibility:

The health of your cartilage is compromised when you lack adequate range of motion because it reduces the amount of synovial fluid and blood supply that reaches your joints. Muscles grow fatigued when movement is restricted, which causes other muscle groups to overcompensate and tire out. A lack of flexibility adds stress to structures and tissues in other parts of the body, such as referred pain that develops in your knee due to tightness in your calf.

Benefits of Stretching

The main goal of stretching is to loosen muscles, but it also improves mobility and reduces the factors that restrict your flexibility. An article in Healthline talks about several benefits of maintaining a routine of stretching.

  • Improves performance - By stretching before participating in physical activities, you can maximize your exercise while raising your level of coordination.
  • Increases blood supply to muscles - To function properly, your muscles and joints need good circulation, which is enhanced by stretching.
  • Promotes good posture - You need balance to prevent the development of posture that’s hunched over or lists to the left or right.
  • Helps to heal back pain - When your muscles are tight you lose range of motion. Stretching loosens muscles and reduces pain.
  • Relieves stress - Whether it’s in your home office or yoga class, regular stretching is an effective way to promote calm.
  • Decreases frequency of headaches - Because it promotes relaxation, stretching can decrease the prevalence of tension headaches.

Most stretching techniques are either static or dynamic, and they each serve different purposes. Dynamic stretches, or those involving movement such as a walking lunge, are useful before physical activities to prepare for your workout. You can lower the risk of injury by following up your fitness program with static stretching, which involves holding each position for 10 to 30 seconds.

How to Increase Your Flexibility

Your overall wellness depends on many factors, and maintaining your range of motion is an important one because it affects your quality of life. If your muscles, ligaments, tendons, and bones are not functioning properly, it restricts your abilities.

Chiropractic spinal adjustments can help intercept impending health problems and improve your range of motion.

The Stretching Institute has an article with tips to maximize your flexibility.

Avoid injuries - Be careful to follow directions when participating in sports or other physical activities involving coordination. When you have sprains, strains, soreness, or any other type of injury, it often results in restricted movement somewhere in your body.

Build strength - Some experts consider strength a complement to flexibility, because your muscles need both capacities. Your range of motion is limited by the level of strength you have in that muscle group.

Hydrate and eat right - Because your muscles are 75 percent water, it stands to reason you need to keep tissues soft and supple through hydration. A healthy diet consisting of natural fruits and vegetables will provide you with many of the vitamins your body needs to maintain strength, muscle, and flexibility.

Use foam rollers - Research touts the use of foam rollers to improve short-term flexibility, according to the Hospital for Special Surgery website. Similar to stretching, applying the roller to your legs will increase circulation to your muscles, resulting in greater range of motion. Other myofascial tools to loosen tissues include exercise balls, percussion devices, and massage sticks.

How Chiropractic Care Can Improve Flexibility

For a person with a limited range of motion, treatment typically includes an examination of the large and small muscle groups in both flexed and extended positions. They also take into account family health history and feedback from the chiropractic patient about areas where they’re experiencing pain or have limited flexibility.

Some of the most significant areas to assess range of motion are:

  • Lower back
  • Hamstrings
  • Shoulders
  • Spine
  • Neck
  • Hips
  • Pelvis

An article by VeryWell Health describes the different forms of measurement for range of motion.

Passive range of motion - The ability of your body to move when manipulated by someone else is your passive range of motion. You stay relaxed while your chiropractor checks movement in and around your joints.

Active-assistive range of motion - When an injured part of your body can move by itself but needs help, your chiropractor can check your active-assistive range of motion. Assisting with movement limits further damage to the injured area.

Active range of motion - When a person can move their body independently with the use of their own muscles, the active range of motion can be measured.

Your joints are a key player in your range of motion, and manual therapies such as chiropractic adjustments can stimulate greater flexibility in the targeted area. An article published in Chiropractic & Manual Therapies cites a study showing an improvement in functional performance when people with chronic lower back pain receive manual therapy interventions.

Regular chiropractic care makes it easier to detect changes to your range of motion. When your flexibility falls below your baseline, your chiropractor can get an early read on health problems that may be developing.

Your boss may be more interested in how much you bend over backwards to get your work done, but being physically flexible and adjusting to change can also make your life easier. You can improve your flexibility and lower the risk of injury by maintaining the health of your joints through chiropractic treatment. It’s no stretch to believe you can become more active with a little work.

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