An effective fitness program should consist of cardiovascular training, strength building and flexibility exercises. However, often the flexibility component is overlooked. Flexibility exercises are an important part of recovering from aerobic activity and can reduce your risk for injury. The American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons (AAOS) encourages individuals to incorporate these exercises into their daily workouts.
Increasing your flexibility improves your ability to move easily. Some joints lose up to 50 percent of motion as we age. There are many ways to improve your joint flexibility including controlled stretches held for 10-30 seconds, stretches that rely on reflexes to produce deeper flexibility, as well as yoga and pilates.
– Raymond Rocco Monto, MD.
Before skipping flexibility exercises during your next workout, consider these five benefits suggested by The American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons :
Less back and joint pain: A 2011 study in the Archives of Internal Medicine found that regular stretching was effective in relieving chronic back pain. Other research has shown quadriceps stretches helped decrease knee pain.
Better circulation: A 2009 study in the American Journal of Physiology discovered that torso stretches decreased stiffness and improved blood flow. This also may be why regular bedtime hamstring and calf stretches decrease the frequency and intensity of night-time leg cramps.
Improved joint motion: Flexibility naturally decreases with age. Stretching can help restore lost joint motion and improve function.
Better athletic performance: Like a good rubber band, muscles and tendons generate more force under tension when they are supple and compliant.
Improved muscle health: Mobility exercises can increase the amount of stress muscles can handle in high tension activities that involve jumping and cutting movements.
While flexibility training it’s important to always warm up before your stretch. Stretching cold muscles can cause injury. Breathe into your stretch, and stretch slowly and gently to avoid muscle tension. Relax and hold each stretch 10 to 30 seconds. Also, stretching should not hurt. If you feel pain, ease up, breathe deeply and relax into it.
Ip, Kayee, and Kelly K. Johnson. “Five benefits of flexibility exercises for your bones and joints.” AAOS Online Newsroom. American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons , Nov. Web. 4 Feb. 2015.