Flexibility is seen as something exclusive, adopted by yoga practitioners and also something people use for long-term health.
Usually, people look at it at older ages when the body tightens up and/ or is recovering from injury. My approach is to tap into the benefits of flexibility by getting to optimum performance and health through stretching before any problems occur. By keeping mobile and flexible the great long-term effects are that you will be able to train more regularly and optimally due to reducing or eliminating injuries.
Flexibility will give you longer and more functional muscle in that you will be able to use your muscles with the full use of their range of movement.
Flexibility will give you much greater balance and coordination of your muscles and on the journey to becoming more flexible, you will develop more power due to the fact that muscles are lengthened. A tight muscle that is strong isn’t necessarily powerful as speed will be reduced when the range is taken away or isn’t available.
Flexibility will reduce muscle soreness and enable you to recover and train with less recovery time, more frequency and more energy.
The process of improving flexibility comes from a slow releasing energy system and requires deep breathing in turn allowing the diaphragm to open or be less constricted so that the body becomes more alive and rejuvenated from deeper breathing. This will reduce stress and tension from the mind too. Anyone that has a high pressure job will be able to look at things from an additional perspective and also relax themselves mentally.
Here are the stretches I recommend from years of experience with clients and where muscles are universally tight.
1 The bridge or variances of the bridge. This is a beautiful way of lengthening the spine to its fullest capacity and also strengthening it, it is also a great way of opening up the chest which is much needed so people can breathe more diaphragmatically.
2 The splits, front and both sides. These are amazing for lengthening and mobilising and opening up the groin and hips and taking pressure away from the spine. The hips can lead to the store of a lot of tension in the body as a result of sitting down for prolonged periods of time or being sedentary.
3 Shoulder stretches where you link both hands behind you from both sides. This is great for opening the arms chest and shoulders.
4 Lying spine, glutes and chest stretch. This stretches almost everything that can store tension in the body, especially the spine, the glutes and chest.
These stretches can sometimes seem hard, at first you may not be able to do them so progress is key, keep maintaining being limber in these poses. Work on your weaknesses to create more balance and therefore more power.
To good health and longevity.