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Improve Flexibility With These Tips

By Paul Rothbart

There are physical attributes that are highly desirable. Strength, speed, and endurance are helpful for sports as well as many routine daily chores. They also contribute to good health and reduce risk of injury. There is another attribute that is equally helpful. That would be flexibility. Flexible muscles are far less likely to be torn or pulled. These are painful and debilitating injuries that can take considerable time to heal. Flexibility also helps muscles to perform at their best, enhancing strength. Taking the time to improve flexibility is well worth the effort. Here are some tips to do just that. 

Choose the Best Exercise for You

There are a number of types of exercise that are very effective at improving flexibility. The three most highly recommended are yoga, Pilates, and tai chi. While all are excellent forms of exercise, choosing the one that suits your body and needs best, will be the most effective. Yoga and Pilates work in a similar manner. Both focus on building strength along with flexibility. Where they differ is yoga's focus on increasing range of motion in the joints. Tai chi stretches the entire body and loosens the muscles. It's very good for anyone with limited mobility. Those who are recovering from injury or have balance problems are also good candidates for tai chi. Ask questions and make an informed choice that fits your fitness goals and physical capabilities.

Eat Enough Protein

Although nutrition has not been linked directly to flexibility, sufficient amounts of quality protein consumed after exercise may be helpful. The body makes collagen from the building blocks of protein. Collagen, combined with Vitamin C may help reduce joint pain, as well as support tendons. This can aid the performance of flexibility enhancing exercise. 

Hold Stretches Long Enough

Stretching is vital to improving flexibility. Many people do not hold the stretch long enough, giving in to discomfort after 5-10 seconds. Dr. Polly McGuigan, a senior lecturer in biomechanics at the University of Bath, recommends holding a stretch for at least 30 seconds. Shorter stretch times do not sufficiently affect the stiffness of tissues and therefore are not very effective at increasing flexibility.

Exercise Frequently

Flexibility is very much use-it-or-lose-it. It takes time and patience to increase flexibility and daily exercise is highly recommended. The amount of exercise will vary depending on your fitness goals. Improving flexibility for sports will require more intense training than just increasing it enough for ease of daily activities. 

Flexibility is an important attribute for good health and avoiding injury. With the right form of exercise, performed properly and consistently, flexibility can be improved and the benefits reaped. 

To learn more about your health, wellness and fitness, see your local chiropractor at The Joint Chiropractic in Spring, Tex.

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