How to become more flexible in 2018

04/01/2018
How to become more flexible in 2018

It's not enough to build muscle and achieve aerobic fitness. You need to think about flexibility, too.

You may think of stretching as something performed only by runners or gymnasts. But we all need to stretch in order to protect our mobility and independence. A lot of people don't understand that stretching has to happen on a regular basis. It should be something we all do daily as part of our routine.

Stretching keeps the muscles flexible, strong, and healthy, and we need that flexibility to maintain a range of motion in the joints. Without it, the muscles shorten and become tight. Then, when you call on the muscles for activity, they are weak and unable to extend all the way. That puts you at risk for joint pain, strains, and muscle damage.

We all spend too long sitting in a chair all day results in tight hamstrings in the back of the thigh. That can make it harder to extend your leg or straighten your knee all the way, which inhibits walking. Likewise, when tight muscles are suddenly called on for a strenuous activity that stretches them, such as running, they may become damaged from suddenly being stretched. Injured muscles may not be strong enough to support the joints, which can lead to joint injury.

Regular stretching keeps muscles long, lean, and flexible. Healthy muscles also help a person with balance problems to avoid falls.

With a body full of muscles, the idea of daily stretching may seem overwhelming. But you don't have to stretch every muscle you have. The areas critical for mobility are in your lower extremities: your calves, your hamstrings, your hip flexors in the pelvis and quadriceps in the front of the thigh. Stretching your shoulders, neck, and lower back is also beneficial. Aim for a program of daily stretches or at least three or four times per week.

Stretching once today won't magically give you perfect flexibility. You'll need to do it over time and remain committed to the process. It may have taken you many months to get tight muscles, so you're not going to be perfectly flexible after one or two sessions. It takes weeks to months to get flexible, and you'll have to continue working on it to maintain it.

For help & more information about adding some stretches to your fitness routine ask one of our fitness teams who would be glad to help. It's worth remembering all One Card members receive a FREE monthly programme review as part of their membership.