Why You Should Care About Flexibility
I’m a 40-year-old “weekend warrior” I play basketball, football, and run frequently. Lately, however, I’ve experienced a lot of injuries (strains, pulls and joint issues) and I’m wondering why do I keep getting injured and what I can do to prevent this? ~Matt, Los Angeles
It’s crucial you stretch and build flexibility. Think of your arms and legs like the limbs of a tree. If the “tree branches” are brittle and inflexible, they’re more likely to becoming injured, or break. But if you’re “bendy” (like a palm tree or Gumby) you’ll be able to withstand more force. The more flexible your muscles are through their entire range of motion, the more strength you will be able to develop. If you don’t stretch your muscles, the belly of the muscle remains in a semi-contracted state, and therefore you aren’t able to work the muscles through their entire range of motion.
If you remember only one thing about flexibility remember this: Stretching is always about ALLOWING, never about FORCING.
If you don’t stretch your muscles, the belly of the muscle remains in a semi-contracted state, and therefore you aren’t able to work the muscles through their entire range of motion.
If you’re currently ignoring flexibility as part of your fitness routine, it won’t take long to make huge strides in this area. Five or 10 minutes post-workout will put you on the right path. Listen to your breath and try to extend (allow) the stretch a bit further with each inhalation and exhalation. You should be able to get a bit further each time. As you stretch, resist the urge to “bounce.” This is important, because if you bounce you risk pulling the muscles.
Hold each stretch for a minimum of 15 actual seconds. If you do this, you will make progress. If you can hold each stretch a bit longer, even better.
More importantly, I think you’ll find some unique side-benefits to the mind/body connection to flexibility. Much like yoga, building your flexibility requires some mental quiet and discipline. It’s a good way to quiet your mind and your body while caring for your muscles.