I look around and notice how overlooked flexibility and mobility are. I can only assume that, because being flexible does not directly increase muscle mass or help weight loss, many don’t consider it to be important.
Fitness enthusiasts regularly spare 10 minutes at the end of their workout to stretch. Better than nothing perhaps, but that’s barely half of what they should do, in my opinion.
When I coach my clients I focus on flexibility. At least half of our session has elements which increase flexibility and mobility.RELATED: RECOMMENDED PLANS FOR YOU
At the end they move better, heal faster and get rid of those pesky aches and pains around the body many of which come from tense muscles, tendons and ligaments.
If we look long term at how being flexible benefits us we may change our opinion about its importance.
First of all no matter how you look now, in a few years you will change. A lot. You may lose muscle or gain some weight. So your current state is not going to last forever.
Flexibility and mobility on the other hand, if taken care of, can last for a long time along with the benefits.
Let’s make the difference between flexibility and mobility first
MOBILITY is the ability to move or be moved freely and easily. MOBILITY is an indication of how well and efficiently we move.
FLEXIBILITY is the quality of bending easily without breaking. FLEXIBILITY is a component of MOBILITY.
MOBILITY deals with how loose you feel, or how stiff you feel.
FLEXIBILITY deals with muscles length
MOBILITY is about the whole picture, how easily the body can move.
FLEXIBILITY is specific to a particular movement or joint and it can vary around the body.
When I talk about stretching I don’t mean 10 mins of classical stretches, but dedicated sessions when you stretch more than anything else.
Probably the easiest way is to practice yoga at least 1 day every week plus your 10-15 minute regular stretches before and after every workout.
However there are many ways you can incorporate exercises which strengthen your body or help you lose weight and also improve your flexibility. For example hanging, tree scrambling, squats variations, crawls.
General benefits of flexibility and mobility
1. Prepare the body for physical activity
2. Reduce the risk of injuries or help recover faster from one.
3. More ease of movement means more relaxation in the whole body thus less general aches and pains.
4. Helps with post workout recovery reducing soreness by driving blood flow to soft tissue
5. Improved posture. Tight muscles affect your spine alignment.
Fot those of you who have read my previous articles you’ll know I am a competitive participant in Obstacle Course Racing (OCR). And this is a further reason why flexibility and mobility are key to me and those I work with.
Benefits of flexibility and mobility in the OCR context:
1. You are more able to climb walls reducing the risk of suffering injuries or pulling muscles.
2. Reduces the chances of cramping while running the course
3. Ease of movement when you crawl under, over or through obstacles
4. Better control and less risk of injury when you run on slippery, slimy mud. You slip, you fall, you get up and run, no pulled muscles or damaged joints
5. Getting your body ready for the race and helping your body recover faster and more efficiently.