Improve Flexibility: Improve Your Life
As young pups we all sit around in the classroom for circle reading time, most of which is done on the floor. We are accustomed to sitting on the floor in a cross legged position for lengthy periods of time and being comfortable in it. I however, once again, am the anomaly to this. I have absolutely awful flexibility in my hips and so my cross legged sitting has always been affected. Among other things with being non flexible is that my hamstrings and quads are tighter than the average person. I do pride myself however, on being able to touch my toes when I stretch. The reason I can do this, is due to years of sports and stretching. Without this I'm sure I'd walk like a robot everyday.
One secret is out of the bag as to how to gain even a little bit more flexibility, so what else is there for those who are out there afflicted just as I am with not so great flexibility? Better still, why is being flexible important? It's not as if we are all sitting cross legged at our desks, and circle time is unfortunately long gone. Well, flexibility aids the joints, blood flow and helps with anyone exercising to get better results from workouts.
Stretch, Stretch & Stretch Some More
Stretching isn't particularly fun, and most of us either do it at less than 50 percent of what we should, or just skip out on it altogether. The soreness we feel the day after a nice workout is generally due to wear and tear of muscles, but much of the pain felt with soreness can be eradicated by proper and adequate stretching. Athletes are taught from an early age to stretch before any physical activity, not just to prevent pulling of muscles but also to loosen up the joints and the muscles themselves. Getting sufficient blood flow around the body during a workout will increase the results of said workout. A good warm up is about 15 minutes, consisting of a good amount of stretching, where each stretch is held for a sufficient amount of time, roughly 30 seconds. Stretching after workouts is also beneficial, at least for a few minutes.
The Art of Stretching
Believe it or not, all stretching is not created equal. The biggest rule in any stretching however, is not to over do it. Once you reach that point of feeling a little pain, that's where you should stop and hold. Bouncing is a big no no. Bouncing can lead to pulled or torn muscles which is precisely what stretching is done to prevent.
Dynamic stretching is done before any form of static stretching. Static stretching is the type of stretching we are all familiar with from our elementary school gym days. Done in a seated position with limited movements. Dynamic stretching on the other hand is done with motion and is meant to mimic exaggerated movements.
There are many other alternatives to increasing flexibility, yoga is one that many people turn to, as well as massage and acupuncture. Whatever the method, increasing flexibility is an important part of keeping the body healthy, especially as it ages.
Always consult your primary care physician or chiropractor for any medical related advice.