We pay so much attention to our bodies… are we losing weight, building muscle, looking good? But…. there’s something we’re all to quick to overlook, and it’s something that men tend to be notoriously the worst with… being flexible.
Main image: Soul Circus by www.davidsavillphotography.co.uk
Many perceive being flexible as a waste of workout time in our busy lives, but listen up, being flexibile significantly reduces the chance of experiencing chronic back pain. It also decreases the risk of injury, as the ability to move unimpeded through a wider range of movement is enhanced.
This in turn helps achieve greater form in pretty much any workout, for example allowing you to squat deeper, as your knees and hip flexors will bend further, so reaping greater rewards from your exercise regime.
There are now whole exercise sessions geared around being flexible, and I’m not just talking the expected yoga. In my field of training I’m loving the emergence of exercise props to assist and enhance a stretchy new body workout.
From the basic dynaband and straps to high tech Pilates reformer machines, the fitness industry is taking the ability to stretch seriously, especially after seeing proven results in athletes performance following a programme to increase movement range.
No longer the realm of whale music and chanting, being flexible is becoming ‘cool,’ embracing heady R and B beats creating a fun and powerful discipline. When muscles are warm and pliable, stretching releases any tension that may be stored and assists with posture by balancing the tension placed across the joint by the muscles that cross it.
So really is it any wonder that first thing in the morning your bodies natural response is to stretch? When you sleep, your muscles lose tone and fluid tends to pool along your back. By reaching up and wriggling, this style of stretching helps massage fluid gently back into the normal position.
It’s also extremely invigorating as just a few minutes of stretching gets the blood flowing throughout the body, including your brain, so next time you’re having a mid afternoon slump in the office, factor in a little stretch and see if you feel refreshed!
On another note, being flexible is linked to improvements with balance too, which in turn decreases the chances of injuries through falls. It is believed that improved flexibility is linked to fine muscle coordination, so a greater ability to make small balance adjustments.
So reach down and touch those toes, and get reaping those results!