Flexibility is an important component of health-related fitness, but flexibility training is often neglected, even among regular exercisers. Flexibility describes the ability of a joint and surrounding muscles to move through a specific range of motion with ease and without pain. Lifting weights promotes lean muscle mass, and aerobic exercise such as running improves the function of the heart and lungs, but what can flexibility training do for you? Here are a few of the benefits:
Improved efficiency in completing activities of daily living such as bending, reaching, squatting and stepping over things
Reduced risk of injury (especially those related to sport and physical activity)
In addition to these physical benefits, flexibility training can improve mood by releasing muscle tension and facilitating relaxation. For best results, do some form of flexibility training at least two to three days per week. However, if stretching is not currently part of your fitness program, you can enjoy the benefits of this type of training by incorporating just a few flexibility exercises for beginners at the end of your workout session. Here are three to get you started, and all you will need is a yoga or exercise mat:
This stretch focuses on the psoas muscle, which can become tight from extended sitting and repetitive aerobic exercise activities such as running.
This stretch focuses on the hamstrings (back of the thigh) and relieves tension in the back.
This stretch focuses on the outer hip and gluteal muscles, and relieves tension in the lower back.
Keep in mind that flexibility is joint- and muscle-specific and varies from person to person. People who are very flexible in their hamstrings may find that they lack the same level of flexibility in their shoulders. Fitness level, genetics, age, gender and individual anatomy all impact a person’s flexibility. Still, flexibility will improve with consistent training.
Follow these tips to get the most out of your flexibility training: