If you want to be fit for the long haul, flexibility can be a game changer. Physical fitness includes strength, balance, endurance, and flexibility. All are important for good health at any age.
What Is Flexibility?
Flexibility refers to the range of motion of a joint. Regular flexibility workouts can help your body keep moving smoothly.
Flexibility is more than just touching your toes. When you move your body, you are moving one or more of your joints by flexing or contracting the muscles attached. The more flexible you are, the greater range of motion you enjoy, and the easier it is to move freely.
Putting joints through a full range of motion is important for the health of the joint itself. The blood flow to the cartilage increases, which ups the amount of joint fluid. It is perfectly possible to have a good range of motion in one joint and limited motion in others. This shows you where work is needed.
The degree of flexibility you have in a joint depends on the length of related muscles, ligaments, and tendons. This can be increased by stretching. While stretching is associated with flexibility, the two are not synonymous. Flexibility refers to how much you can move a joint or set of joints, while stretching is a type of exercise that keeps your muscles flexible and healthy according to a 2019 Harvard Health article.
If you practice yoga, try MYX Coach Erika’s 10-minute hip mobility workout routine, or incorporate flexibility stretching into your regular workouts, you can increase flexibility over time. Start with a warm-up, and then incorporate stretches that lengthen your major muscle groups. Hold each stretch for at least 30 seconds.
Flexibility is important at any age, but it can be more of an issue as our bodies age. Inactive people lose 3-5% of their flexibility every 10 years, starting at age 30. As a person’s range of motion declines over the years, muscles become shorter and less elastic.
Regular flexibility stretches combat this tendency and can help keep your body moving easily. These can be separate sessions or added to your warm-up routine. If you are just getting started, add a 20-30 second stretch of each major muscle group to your workout two or three times a week. Increase the number of stretches gradually as your agility increases.